1. What does your typical day look like?
There is no such thing as a typical day. My seat in the Dispute Resolution Team has been extremely varied and has allowed me to get involved with all manner of disputes, such as commercial, property and inheritance disputes. I can say that each task I have undertaken, whether it be tasks assigned by other fee earners to assist with their matters or with my own matters, which I handle with supervision from more senior solicitors, has helped me to develop useful skills and is reflective of typical tasks that a solicitor will undertake in practice. Such tasks include research, communicating advice to clients, telephone conversations with clients, drafting legal documents and attending meetings.
2. What have been your trainee highlights so far?
For me, it is all about client contact. When talking to solicitors in other firms I was told that they had very little direct client contact. This is not the case with Furley Page and I have been fortunate enough to have direct contact with clients from the outset of my period of recognised training (in fact even when I worked as a Legal Assistant in the Personal Injury Team prior to commencing my period of recognised training). During my dispute resolution seat, I came across all manner of clients with different situations, from those who are involved in private disputes to those involved in business disputes. Part of the challenge is knowing how to deal with each client as no two clients are the same and it is personally gratifying when you are able to achieve a client’s objectives and they are thoroughly satisfied with the service provided.
In addition, I have also enjoyed becoming involved with different aspects of the Firm such as the trainee assessment process, networking events and the social committee- there is more to work than just the work itself!
3. What interesting challenges have you faced whilst being a trainee?
The biggest challenge so far has been the varied matters. No two matters are the same, nor are the clients. A key skill that I feel I have developed is the ability to switch between matters and not only apply a different area of legal knowledge, but also adapt the way I deal with different clients. It goes without saying that working for a private client is very different from work for a business client.
4. Has your perception of the legal sector changed since being a trainee and if so how?
From work experience, research and attending numerous legal events I have always perceived the legal sector to be very competitive and that perception has not changed. Clients are looking for more for their money and there has been an increasing pressure on firms to undertake more “fixed fee” work as a result. Furthermore, firms are increasingly required to develop new methods of standing out in the legal market. It has been interesting to see the development of Furley Page since I started as a Legal Assistant at the end of 2014 and how these developments are geared towards ensuring the Firm is successful for years to come.
5. What training/support have you received whilst being a trainee?
The support I have received so far is, in my opinion, un-paralleled. I have undertaken work experience in various firms from smaller regional firms to large city firms and I noticed that more senior members of the team were often unable to provide support, and it would therefore fall to other members of the team to supervise. At Furley Page I have received support from all members of staff up to and including the partners who always take time to provide support and guidance when required.
6. What was your perception of Furley Page prior to joining us and has that changed/met your expectations – if not why not?
I was fortunate enough to undertake work experience with Furley Page before I joined the Firm. Therefore, my perception that Furley Page values its clients and staff, and places a strong emphasis on teamwork and non-hierarchical approachability of its entire staff has not changed.
7. Are there any misconceptions about being a trainee which you can now set the record straight on?
As a trainee you are not expected to burn the candle at both ends, you are encouraged to have a work-life balance.
8. Was it a difficult transition from class room to office in terms of applying your legal knowledge to real life clients?
In my opinion, the legal knowledge I acquired during my undergraduate degree is useful as background information but it is the legal practice course which prepares you for dealing with real life situations with real life clients. If you work hard at the various stages towards qualification (including work experience) then you should be fine.