My name’s Katie Lowe, and I'm a serious injury solicitor.
Due to medical negligence at birth, my younger sister has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. Growing up, I cared for her alongside my parents, who are her primary carers. We have a really close relationship.
My parents spent over ten years fighting a legal case for compensation for my sister, and they were successful. Their strength and determination inspired me to qualify as a serious injury solicitor.
Managing my disability
I also have a disability. I have systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly known as lupus, and it's a hidden disability. It's an autoimmune condition and I experience joint pain, fatigue, hair loss, and muscle aches. My condition fluctuates, so one day I’ll feel absolutely fine, and then another day, I may struggle to get out of bed. I’ll feel very fatigued and have severe joint pain, which makes it difficult to focus on my work. I manage my condition with medication.
Dealing with a disability adds an extra difficulty to life, which requires resilience. You have to be determined and strong-minded to manage your condition alongside your day job.
At Irwin Mitchell, we have a flexible approach to work, which is very helpful. It means that I can choose where I work, whether that’s in the office or from home when I’m having a difficult day with my joints. I can also choose when I start and finish and I can take regular breaks throughout the day if I’m struggling with fatigue and need to rest.
Having open conversations
For an outsider, they don’t know if I’m having a difficult day. It can be quite challenging because you wouldn't know I have a hidden disability from speaking to me, but I’m quite open about it.
I have an open line of communication with my colleagues and clients. They’re aware of my disability and know when I’m having a bad flare up. This helps us work together to ensure my clients’ needs are met if I’m having a difficult day.
I've been part of my team for three years now, and we’re like a family, I've developed some really good friendships. I feel comfortable going to my supervisors and colleagues to share any queries, no matter how big or small, because they always support me.
Pushing for change
Working for a firm that’s focused on diversity and inclusion is really important to me. We have several diversity groups and I really enjoy being a member of the disability group IM Able.
The group is made up of colleagues with disabilities as well as allies. We get together to discuss disability, any difficulties we experience, and how we can promote disability inclusion.
We share a newsletter every four months to raise awareness across the firm by providing information about different disabilities. Being part of this community is so powerful, and I’ve met friends who have a similar condition to me.
We’ve made great steps to promote disability and make sure we’re inclusive as a firm. The flexible by choice policy has been a key highlight. But the landscape is always changing so there's always room for improvement and being part of IM Able is a way to push for that.
Our goal is to ensure that anyone who joins our firm with a disability feels comfortable and that their needs are catered for.
Empathising with clients
We put our clients at the forefront of everything we do. I work with clients who’ve experienced a life-changing injury. It’s important to let them talk about their experiences and to fully understand what they’re going through so we can get the best possible outcome for them.
I feel that having a disability has made me a good solicitor. A lot of my clients struggle with pain and fatigue daily, which mirrors my experience, so I can empathise and relate to them.
It’s very rewarding when I see a client progress through the life of their claim. In the early days after their accident, they may be limited in their mobility or suffering psychologically. There’s no better feeling than helping them access rehabilitation that helps with their recovery. I feel happy knowing they can look ahead to a brighter future and go back to doing the things they enjoyed before their injury.
Work for us
I'm proud to work here because I work with a group of like-minded individuals. We're all focused on achieving the best outcome for our clients. We’re not only work colleagues, but close friends, and we spend time socialising outside of work.
There’s always a fear about disclosing your disability when applying for a job because you worry that you’ll experience prejudice. I was concerned when I applied here, but I was very open with my manager and my colleagues, and I've been supported ever since.
I'd encourage anyone to apply for a role here, whether you’ve got a disability or not. It's a great place to work, with its flexible by choice policy, diversity and inclusion initiatives and welcoming colleagues. The flexible by choice policy is very beneficial for managing your disability and if you need any reasonable adjustments putting in place, the firm’s extremely accommodating.
Read Katie's professional profile.