Damian Kent: A Level graduate became the first ever Trainee Solicitor for Channel 5 and now works for shows like Britain’s Got Talent, The Apprentice and The X Factor

Damian Kent studied his A Levels at Christ the King Sixth Form College. He believes his experiences at college were essential to his doing well at university and his subsequent role at FreemantleMedia as a Legal and Business Affairs Executive.

“I never had a fixed idea of what I wanted to do for a career, I changed my mind frequently,” said Damian, who studied A Levels in Law, English Literature and Psychology. “In fact, I didn’t even want to attend university! It was through studying Law at Christ the King that I changed my mind; the exposure to a new subject area is what shaped my career choice.

“Fast forward a bit, I now work as a solicitor for FreemantleMedia, a television production company, where I have worked on shows including Britain’s Got Talent, The Apprentice and The X Factor.

“College was essential for me; you can’t pursue a career as a solicitor via the traditional route without having taken A Levels and studied for a university degree. Skills wise, I learnt more workplace skills outside of the classroom, but at college I began to develop the ability to put myself forward in new situations and take on a challenge – initiative and leadership. University and indeed a career are very independent pursuits, and college is a good and safe building block to begin to develop your own independence and self-motivation.

“Upon graduating with a law degree, I took up various legal assistant and paralegal roles, at first in a mental health law firm and then in employment law at a legal advice centre and a local authority. During this time, I also gained work experience at a few media companies, including MTV and Channel 4, and these experiences made me realise I would enjoy a career as a media lawyer.

“I started working for Channel 5, where I completed my further legal studies (the Legal Practice Course) part-time while training to become a fully qualified solicitor. I would have to say my proudest moment would be convincing Channel 5 to train me to become a solicitor. Channel 5 had never taken on any trainee solicitors, but I enjoyed working there and so I had to find a way to enable me to stay and grow with the business, rather than out of it. So I prepared a business case for Channel 5 to register as an authorised trainer, including how we could fulfil the training requirements, in order to officially take me on as a trainee solicitor. This was nearly a year long process, involving various conversations with senior management but, eventually they agreed and they also funded half of my fees for law school!”

“My role at FreemantleMedia involves advising the business on intellectual property law (such as copyright and trade mark law) and negotiating on and drafting various contracts, including for presenters on our shows, for example.

“Your goals can change over time. I don’t think you have to be one thing for the rest of your life once you have made a decision. My initial goal was to qualify as a solicitor, I’ve done that and so my next mid-term goal is to ensure I grow to become a highly skilled and well-respected lawyer. After that, hopefully I’ll someday be leading a team of lawyers or I’ll change ‘hat’, stop being a lawyer and instead run one of the businesses I’ve been advising, as a director on the board! What is important, however, is that I follow the best opportunities that my skills and talent can afford me, whatever they may be…

“You have to be confident and know what you want. The law is very competitive and there will be thousands of people competing for the same thing, to get qualified, and what makes you different is that you are you! Be able to identify your strengths, and don’t be afraid to be proud about that – everyone else will be.

“Try to get work experience as early as possible; you won’t know what you do or do not like if you don’t experience anything. Don’t worry about working for free for a short time, the value is in the experience itself – you gain skills, understanding and examples that you can then use when applying to university or jobs. Importantly, experiences shape your decisions, so the earlier you have some, the earlier you can start to make the best decisions for you.”