Trainee Solicitor, Kirsty Morrison, blogs about her training programme at Furley Page

Posted by Kirsty Morrison

Trainee Solicitor

What attracted you to the legal profession?

My aim for a career was to do something I really enjoyed so that going to work did not feel like a chore. While studying law at college, I found that it was surprisingly one of the only subjects that I was enthusiastic about and, at that point, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in law – it was something that would continue to challenge me and offer growth and opportunity but also spark my interest.

What made you decide Furley Page was the best place to pursue your training?

Prior to applying to Furley Page, I had researched the firm heavily and I found them to be a well-established and reputable regional law firm, offering a host of opportunities for experience in terms of practice areas – this was something I was keen to have during my training period. I was also impressed by the firm’s involvement with charities and other extra-curricular activities, and felt that their current trainees spoke very highly of the firm.

I was interviewed at Furley Page in two stages - the main interview being with Karen Cook, George Crofton-Martin and Amanda Okill and I can honestly say that it was one of the best interview experiences I have had. During the interview, I felt that they were genuinely proud of the firm themselves, and interested in me as an individual. I was made to feel more than just a number – something that I think every trainee hopes for.

Which area of the law interests you the most and why?

I entered my training contract with an open mind in respect of seat choices as I firmly believed (and still do) that areas of law can be vastly different in practice.
Despite this, I am interested in experiencing both Family Law and Dispute Resolution. I find these two areas to be interesting as each day can genuinely be different to the last - Dispute Resolution in particular touches on such a wide variety of subject areas and this can provide a daily challenge.

What has been your overriding impression of the training programme at Furley Page?

Furley Page take a very hands-on approach with their trainees and, within my first two seats, I have been afforded a surprising level of responsibility very early on. It is satisfying to know that you are genuinely involved in the crucial elements of a matter and not merely taking a back seat.

As a first-year trainee, I have also found all staff to be approachable and willing to provide me with real work, while openly assisting with my many queries.

Describe a typical day as a trainee at Furley Page

I will typically arrive into the office early to organise my day, reply to emails and prioritise my workload. While no two days are the same, I will often spend my mornings reviewing and working on the files I have been running under the supervision of a colleague.

After lunch, I will generally have a meeting with one of the fee earners to discuss any work that I have completed on a matter. These meetings provide an opportunity to ask questions and raise any concerns that I may have, while also providing an opportunity to receive feedback on my work.
Shortly before the end of the day, I will compile a to-do list for the following day and leave reminders for myself for any uncompleted work which will need to be revisited.

What has been your best experience during your training programme?

During my seat in Private Client, I was given the opportunity to travel to London with my head of department to assist with advising a client on the drafting of their Will - this client had recently come into a very large sum of money from a lottery win and therefore required additional advice on estate planning.

This experience enabled me to understand the reasoning behind estate planning and the varying methods that can be used to mitigate an individual’s liability to inheritance tax. It also gave me an understanding of the difficulties that can arise with the administration of an estate later down the line and found that it was a great experience to learn from.

What skills do you think are essential to be a successful lawyer?

I have generally found that the most successful lawyers have the following skills:

  1. Good oral and written communication skills - Lawyers interact with clients and other parties on a daily basis and it is therefore vital that they are able to communicate effectively.
  2. Legal research skills - Nobody is expected to know everything immediately; however I feel that being able to easily navigate sources of law to locate relevant information is a key skill.
  3. Time management skills - Post-qualification, a lawyer will have a growing case load and will therefore need to manage their time efficiently to ensure that they are not spending too long on small tasks, deadlines are met, and clients are kept informed.

Do you have any insights into training programmes at other law firms?  If so, how does the Furley Page programme differ from other solicitor training schemes?

Prior to accepting a training contract with Furley Page, I had worked in another firm and was lucky to have also been offered a training contract with them. As a result, I do have some experience with other training programmes and believe that Furley Page offers much more structure and support.

Furley page invest in their trainees and encourage other fee earners to assist and train them as far as possible – there is always someone available to speak to and they do make you feel more than just a number. I have found that some firms are so focussed on the needs of the business that their trainees are given little support and are often viewed as replaceable. At Furley Page, although there is an emphasis on business need, your preferences are taken into account and it is made clear from day one that you will be given a wide range of experience throughout your two years of training.

What advice would you give anybody looking to train as a solicitor?

Any work experience is good work experience - don’t be afraid to take some time to work in a more junior role as a legal assistant/paralegal/advocate prior to embarking on a training contract. This builds skills and confidence within the workplace and gives you an insight into how law firms really work as a business. Similarly, non-legal work experience can also equip you with some much-needed transferable skills.

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