Gerard Nugent is not your typical solicitor; he drove a taxi whilst pursuing his dreams to work in the legal profession.
However it is little wonder that Gerard has taken up a role with JMK Solicitors, who are one of Northern Ireland’s leading personal injury firms who have vast experience in dealing with taxi drivers.
Tell us about your career?
I studied law when I was 18 after leaving school but I didn’t get to finish the course. So I ended up working in the civil service for about 8 years. I always had the pull to get my law degree so I studied part time at the University of Ulster and then completed my practice certificate course in Liverpool.
I was fortunate to get a job back in Belfast in a legal firm but when you are starting out the wages are low, so I decided to taxi part time to supplement my income. I did both jobs for about three years but now I have given up the taxi and have a great job at JMK Solicitors’ Belfast Office.
What did you most like about driving a taxi?
I drove a taxi in Belfast and it was great to meet people from all walks of life. I am a very social person; I enjoy chatting to people and finding out what they are up to.
What did you dislike the most?
One of my pets hates is rude people with no manners. Some customers think you are there to be bossed around and don’t respect that it is your car. You are providing a valuable service but they take this for granted.
Any funny stories from driving?
I am sure most drivers can relate to this. I had two lads that did a runner one night and then a couple of nights later booked me again. I asked them to pay for the previous fare before we went anywhere!
Also when you told customers you were working in a solicitor’s office, you were asked for legal advice on various issues. I had to tell them to call me when I wasn’t driving!
What do you most enjoy about your new role?
It is really great to help people out in difficult circumstances. Accidents can be very traumatic and we act as a point of contact for all their needs to get them through the recovery process.
What advice would you give a taxi driver involved in an accident?
The other driver might be aggressive or upset but you need to remain calm. Remember to take pictures and do a sketch of the scene if possible. It is important to get passenger details as they might be important witnesses.