returning to work?: i was a solicitor, a partner in... - Headway


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returning to work?

JULIETstevens profile image

i was a solicitor, a partner in a law firm, post TBI work has offered to take me back at a role of less than a secretary. i'm insulted and intend to give them the middle finger. instead i hope to make a new career as an author

23 Replies

You can do better than that. If you are a solicitor why not get involved in brain injury work. You have the primary experience from brain injury and know aspects of law. If you read the posts on here, you can see the desperate situations some people get into which is usually the fault of an inadequate state system. Chris Bryant MP has brought much of this to the attention of the government and the ABI Bill came to life . I'm sure if you contact these people they may give you some good advice and put you in contact with their members from the legal community.

Keep a journal of your progress and that's your story.

Juliet for justice, you get the picture.

Don't throw your skills and knowledge away use them in an area you know intimately. A friend of mine in the US was training to be a neurologist in the Harvard Medical school and got a brain injury playing 'soccer' for their women's team. After she recovered she went back to finish her studies at McGills in Montreal. She realized that the neurologists that she saw after her injury had no realistic idea of what a brain injury was. So she has the intention of bringing the reality to the attention of 'the neurological powers that be' from the inside. You can't change the system from the outside. If you feel aggrieved at not getting a position back at your old firm then think of all the other people with brain injuries that are discriminated against at the work place.

You have the skills to do something about it, use them. Build a new life through that.

Chat2U profile image
Chat2U in reply to pinkvision

Such a fab idea! Or both! TBI Advocate and Author too. 😀

Hi Juliet, sorry if I have got this wrong, but as a partner, don't you get a say? It appears to me that they are doing there best to force you out, if so, wouldn't this be a form of constructive dismissal? It is potentially discrimination on the grounds of your having a protected characteristic. Having said this, it doesn't sound like your colleagues aren't all that savvy with regards to employment, so I would sue them for all you can and start up a rival practice. 🍀

I was a salaried partner not an equity partner so less standing in the firm. Sod the law, I want to be an author now. During my recovery I've written a sequel to my novel and am now planning a third in the trilogy! Keep your fingers crossed for me for the competition I entered - the yeovil literary prize. I'll also enter the first novel prize next year

Hello Juliet, that sounds very upsetting indeed, but I'm inclined to urge caution. Having a BI means we are sometimes impulsive, and also short tempered.

There are various things to ponder - so here are some pros and cons (probably not very well organised, sorry!) They don't need an answer on here, but may be worth you considering - and pm me if you would like.

I doubt your firm would leave themselves open to an allegation of constructive dismissal, or would they? I'm afraid I don't know how employment law works when applied to the partner of a firm.

Their offer does indicate that they still value your personal qualities. It is possible to just sack someone if they are off sick and you feel they cannot do their own job - although there is an interplay with disability legislation - which you are better placed than me to look at.

A consideration from your point of view, is that a new work environment is jolly tough to handle after a BI. However mortifying, this offer does give you a chance to try the workplace without the additional strain of dealing with new people and a new environment, even if the post is markedly different from your old role.

It is also easier to get a new job while you are still employed - annoying, but true.

How does all this fit with your financial situation? If you leave of your own volition, are you cutting yourself off from a severance agreement, and / or state benefits?

Do you feel ready to go back to work in your old position? I'm nearly at four years post concussion, and I still couldn't handle my old role - a couple of hours of voluntary office admin work a week can still be surprisingly challenging and knock me out afterwards. I still seem to be overly sensitive to stress. And ok, I'm now missing many hours of CPD, but my recall is still frustratingly patchy and slow, which would have been a nightmare in my old position.

Are they offering you a medically supervised phased return to work? (Where the timing of the phasing is agreed with your doctor and not just on an arbitrary schedule decided by HR - so it's something that you can cope with).

Have you got medical insurance? A private consultant can be very helpful about negotiating a return to work.

What are your sick pay arrangements at the moment - are these via a company insurance policy, or a private one of your own? (The insurance company may be driving the company actions in order to limit their liability - and in firms without occupational health or HR teams the insurer will step in and fulfill this role).

If 'your' policy pays out a percentage of salary based on a definition 'own work' that presumably will be much reduced if you take the more junior role. Basically, what happens to your remuneration and sick pay if you return to a lower grade of work, and still struggle to do full time hours?

Would working at the lower grade on a support role, prevent you applying for a post at your old level elsewhere?

I understand your feelings about returning with less status to your old firm, which must be a really terrifically hard one to handle, but don't knock the chance to remain in the workplace in an environment that you know, while you

a) assess what you can and can't do in a 'live' situation and

b) continue to see if you can get your novel published - have you thought of self publishing digitally on Amazon?

Pinkvision's idea is jolly interesting and well worth consideration - but weigh up taking what's offered by your old firm, while you explore what other possibilities are out there for you. Provided that doing so doesn't either damage your job prospects, or your income stream. Although unfortunately sick pay only lasts while a firm is willing to keep you in employment.

Terribly difficult situation for you. Hope you can reach a solution that works for you 🌸

Thank you so much for your thought provoking message. My dad was a solicitor and partner in a law firm so he has my back? I've asked him to look into whether I have a claim for constructive dismissal

Dad says I have no case so I'll let that go!

It may be that they were trying to not pressure you initially ? I have had a similar situation recently but am self employed so nowhere to take it really. The chap I worked for could not get his head around the fact that although I sound slurry when tired and I have other strange symptoms that in fact my brain is working. I have had to admit to myself that any more than an hour or two at the very most of work is more than enough for me so I try and engage my brain in other ways where the body fails. A book sounds amazing

Can you go self employed?

I can't go self employed unless I try and set up a rival law firm which I no way would do

Is that no against the law? Do they not have to make reasonable adjustments to help you to stay in your job? They wouldnt want you to take them to court or to go to the papers.Check your rights, have the conversation and if you would rather take a settlement to start you in a new career do so with all the information. In your job you will know the people to talk to. Good luck

I have spoken to my dad who knows about employment law and he doesn't think I have a case

Chat2U profile image
Chat2U in reply to JULIETstevens

Did he say why not?

They do have to make 'reasonable adjustments' for disability. Have they offered you a phased return?

Mine couldn't offer me lower grade work in the firm, so I didn't have to face that particular decision.

I did have what used to be called 'permanent health insurance' as part of my package, which was paying my sick pay.

i have more important things to focus on than work, like my creative writing that i want to make a career of. i'll move on and reconstruct a new career rather than dwelling on the past. i was a successful lawyer, i can be a successful something else. life can still be good !

Chat2U profile image
Chat2U in reply to JULIETstevens

Good attitude!

Hi Juliet. I am sending lots of sympathy. I was a university lecturer (in geology - I am a rock doctor!). The Occupational Health lady at work didn't want me to go back after my accident, but I pushed and pushed. We ended up having a meeting with my Head of Department (who was new, and he did not know me, so the former Head of Department came as well), at the rehabilitation hospital that I had been at. The consultant and the psychologist who had dealt with me had the meeting and they all discussed me. I had to sit outside in the corridor, nervous!Thankfully they overruled the Occupational Health bitch, and said that they would 'try' me - I had to have a meeting each month, to discuss my progress, and see if things were working.

Thankfully everything worked out, and I was allowed back properly. :-) I had had eighteen months off on sick leave.

Unfortunately, after another eight years they closed the department down. :-(

I knew that I would never get another job in lecturing, so I moved into administration. Unfortunately, the last two posts I had did not let me past my probation, so I am currently looking for another job. I am hating it, it is so demoralising!

Anyway, i just wanted to say that you are not the only one in this situation. Good luck, whatever you decide to do.


Thank you flumptious. I am encouraged by knowing I'm not the only professional in this situation. Are you still looking for another job or do you have any unrealized dreams you can pursue now you have the time?

thank you for ypur reply. it is helpful to hear from another professional in my situation. After alot of thought and soul searching, i have decided to do what i love- to give up on work, enjoy being s wife and mother and continue to try and get ppublished. Did you find happiness in the end?


Ignore my whole post below! I've just read all your answers - being a wife/ mother/author sounds like a wonderfully fulfilling life. I'm very envious! 🙂



So, on a practical note the first question for yourself is do you need the income? (You don't need to answer that on here!) Have you worked out how long you can last on your savings? Or looked into benefits?


Going straight for the author route would probably be the best path to maximum TBI recovery as it's minimum stress and maximum flexibility so if you can afford it then this sounds like a good plan, even if you decide to go back to work after you've completed your book.


Maybe be ready for an identity crisis though! The version 1/ version 2 thing is difficult to navigate, perhaps more so when you lose your career if this is a large part of your identity. Thinking about your book as a sabbatical rather than a career change in the short term might help with this.


If you need to keep earning, can you ask for a meeting and get a full staged return to work plan to see if you can make it back from admin to law in that firm? Thinking about the following to give you the best chance of success...

A) Responsibilities.

B) Reduced hours.

C) Additional sick days.

D) Reasonable adjustments such as neuro breaks and flexible working.


I think it might be common practice for companies to manage staff out based on sickness if it's in their T&Cs. You can ask for additional sickness days to support your disability, but it just means that you go on a warning slightly later than you would have done without them.


You can request "reasonable adjustments" for disabilities and in theory have legal cover for this as a "protected characteristic" but they can argue that the offer of a reduced responsibility position was for your own benefit and this a reasonable adjustment to support you back to work.

I've no idea how this would apply in a partnership situation, and I'm sure I'm teaching granny how to suck eggs here, I'm not HR or legal, I've just had some shockingly poor experiences in the workplace to draw on since my TBI!


If you do feel that you are being managed out and decide to pursue this then it's worth knowing that the employment solicitors much prefer to go for constructive dismissal if you've been there more than 2 years, rather than discrimination, as they find it an easier case to argue. Also you have 3 months less one day to file for a tribunal. In that time you can use ACAS to see if you can get the result that you want by mediation. In fact you have to do this before going to tribunal. Again, I'm probably telling you what you already know.


Your house insurance might cover legal costs or provide legal representation for you. But bear in mind they are working for insurers so it's in their best interests to say that you don't meet the +50% chance of success threshold so not necessarily your best route. You can actually get no win no fee solicitors for TBI claims too, but very few.


Maybe talk it through with the headway helpline?

And don't forget to share your book on here if you write one.🙂

JULIETstevens profile image
JULIETstevens in reply to Chat2U

Neither myself nor my husband need to work financially. We are very lucky due to a large inheritance from a very very distant relative! Enjoying being a wife and mother is therefore the best option while continuing to try and get published

Thank you chat2u. Stuff work. We are lucky enough not to need to work financially so I'll chase my dream and enjoy the sunshine ☀️

Just about to start editing my second novel before writing the third in my trilogy that I've already planned. Writing gives me such joy.

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