Joshua Williams discusses his time as a trainee solictor with Furley Page

Posted by Joshua Williams

Senior Associate

Q. Where and what did you study at university before you were accepted for a Training Contract with Furley Page?

I studied Law at the University of West England, Bristol.  It was a hard degree and the academic/theoretical side of law is difficult.  However, I now find that almost every day, I come across something that relates back to my degree and I am grateful that I have a solid grounding in those issues and concepts.

Q. What work had you done before you started your training, including work placements and voluntary work? Did your work experience prove useful?

I think work experience is a key key factor in to obtaining a training contract and impressing an employer.  Academic qualifications are a bare minimum and you really need to show a potential employer what else you can do or are capable of.  Work experience is a great way of doing this.  Even if your previous experience is not in the legal field, if you can demonstrate some transferable skills that will help you as a lawyer, this may be the very thing to help set you apart from the other candidates.

As far as previous experience is concerned, I spent a lot of time working for HMRC in relation to their Civil matters and Criminal matters.  I spent two summers working for the Dover office, whilst I was still at university and then I worked for them in London for three years following the end of my degree.  I strongly believe that this grounding demonstrated my strong work ethic and gave me an excellent platform on which to base my CV. on.  I worked on some high profile cases and gained incredible exposure to the legal world.

The academic studies do not reflect what ‘real world law’ is like and you need to see this first hand.  That’s why it’s so important to try and get some work experience.  There seems little point in applying to a pure commercial firm, when you have never experienced it first hand – you may hate it.  Work experience can help you decide what you do and don’t want to do.

Q. When and why did you decide to become a trainee solicitor with Furley Page? What were you hoping to get out of your training and what appealed to you about the firm?

Furley Page had always been on my radar as the firm I wanted to train with.  I grew up in and around Canterbury and I always hoped that I could work for a well-respected regional firm, near my family.  Furley Page obviously ticked those boxes.  As well as that, their breadth of practice areas excited me, knowing that I would gain good experience in a wide range of areas.  I had already secured a Training Contract with a firm in Tunbridge Wells, but when Furley Page offered me the opportunity – I jumped at the offer.

With regard to the training itself, I was hoping to gain exposure to a wide range of areas so that I could see for myself, into what area of law I might like to qualify. into.

On a slightly more practical note, I also understood that a training contract does not guarantee a job at the end of the two years, and with this in mind I knew how well regarded Furley Page was as a training firm.  I know from experience that Furley Page really do their best to retain trainees, but where some have had to move on, their training at Furley Page has stood them in good stead.

Q. Did your training live up to your expectations? Did it prepare you well for your current position?

At Furley Page you are given a lot of hands on experience as as a Trainee.  This is essential so that when you qualify, you feel comfortable in looking after your own affairs and managing your own files.  You are always learning though, and you are not expected to know everything from day one.  I am still learning now and the day I don’t, is the day to give up.

I spent 6 months in Litigation and Commercial Property, with two seats in Pprivate Client, working with different fee earners.  This insight into the different areas of law was incredibly helpful and helped me to understand what kind of law I wanted to practice.

I feel like that the training did prepare me well, but I am also grateful for my previous work experience, which I feel, gives me a rounded approach to my role.

Q. What position do you hold with Furley Page? Is it where you’d planned to be or have you exceeded your expectations?

I am now a Solicitor with Furley Page, working in Private Client, and I am almost 5 years qualified.  Time seems to have flown by and I am still amazed at the progress I have made.  I cover a wide range of areas and look after a huge case load.  Not only have my legal skills developed, but so too have my management skills.

I spend a lot of my time with clients, helping them through difficult issues or understanding complex legal matters.  I see myself very much as an adviser, and really enjoy this role.  It is far less transactional than other areas of law, and I find that I offer a service, rather than a product.  Although it’s a concept that is rapidly disappearing, I like the idea of being the family lawyer, who can be a point of contact for all the generations.

Q. If you were to meet your younger self, what advice would you give about applying to becoming a trainee solicitor?

Apply early and be more focused when it comes to applications - There is no harm in applying to a magic circle firm, but you need to be realistic about your options.

Gain experience and network - I have now met a number of trainees, who by chance (and the fact they have put themselves out there) have landed a Training Contract by knowing the right people and seeing an opportunity.  I am not talking about luck, but being keen and making that extra effort.

Visit our Careers pages for information about our Undergraduate Work Placement scheme and applying to become a Trainee Solicitor with Furley Page.

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