Having recently qualified in September 2022, and then accepting a solicitor role in the family children department, Gemma Adams has been reflecting on her time as a trainee solicitor at the firm.
My colleague, Emily Black, a solicitor in the Social Welfare department, recently wrote a really interesting blog on life as a trainee solicitor at TV Edwards LLP, and so I have written my own take of life as a trainee, having worked in different departments to Emily throughout my training contract.
I joined TV Edwards LLP as a paralegal in December 2018, working in the Children team within the Family Department. I had heard so many positive things about how much the firm invests into the training of their junior staff, and how you would be trusted to take the lead on your own cases, whilst still being closely supervised by qualified solicitors, so there is always someone to ask, who is able to review the work you do, and point you in the right direction in terms of running a case.
I started my training contact in September 2020 and remained in the Children team within the Family Department for the first six months.
I was working with four different solicitors at the time, all of whom were experienced in many different areas of law, so I was able to be involved in a lot of care proceedings, child abduction, private law children and domestic abuse cases.
I was able to start taking the lead in some private law children and public law outline (PLO) matters which was something I definitely felt ready and excited to be able to do. It meant really having to show initiative and not rely on being asked to do something by a senior colleague, this meant making sure I was on top of any court deadlines, but also taking responsibility for things like considering any documents received on the file, keeping the client updated throughout the case, and remembering to chase something if it hadn’t been received yet, as well as actively thinking about progressing the case. I’m lucky in that all of my supervisors, and the Children team within the Family department as a whole, were always happy to talk any queries I had through, and give advice when needed.
I then spent six months in the Finance team within the Family department.
What I really loved about moving into this department, was that I was able to bring my private children cases with me, as this is also an area of law that the finance team specialise in.
This meant that I was able to lead on a child arrangements order case from start to finish under supervision from experienced fee earners. I’d never worked on any divorce or finance cases before moving into this team, so it was really interesting to experience something new and in particular, becoming more confident when working on more privately paying files, preparing cost estimates, keeping the client updated about costs incurred, and improving my billing practices. I was also able to run some of my own, less complex, divorce files where the clients were of limited means, and wanted a clean break consent order to deal with their finances of the relationship. This developed my experience when it comes to drafting, or amending court orders, which is now particularly useful when completing my own advocacy.
I then moved to the personal injury department for six months.
This was a completely new area of law for me. On my first day in the department, I was able to attend an inquest into the tragic death of a young woman.
The case concluded with the Coroner completing a prevention of future deaths report, which was sent to the commissioner of the metropolitan police, Sadiq Khan, as well as two universities. The inquest received a lot of attention from the media, and although the case itself involved very sad circumstances, being able to attend and learn about the process of an inquest first hand, was very interesting. During the rest of my time in the personal injury department, I was able to also work on a lot of actions against the police cases, and actions against public bodies, as well as cases involving accidents at work, road traffic accidents, and slipping/tripping accidents. It was great to be able to bring some of my knowledge from the family department as we also use the Civil Procedure Rules, so it was an opportunity for me to solidify my understanding of this, and how it is followed in practice.
I ended my training contract by returning to the Children team within the Family department.
I knew I wanted to qualify as a family children solicitor, so I chose my final seat in this team.
I was able to work with the joint head of our family department, Hannah Perry, and Associate solicitor, Claire Longland, both of whom have a lot of experience in a wide variety of private and public law cases concerning children, as well as domestic abuse cases. The final six months of my training contact was very much about building my caseload and showing commercial viability, so that when I qualified, I already had a number of active cases that would really help when it came to reaching my billing target.
I felt completely supported by my supervisors who gave me confidence to take on more challenging cases, and even take on my first care proceedings case, whilst still being a trainee solicitor. Part of the reason I am so grateful to have completed my training contract at TV Edwards LLP, is because I know there are so many other firms when I never would have been able to have that experience and felt supported to do this. It was my first care proceedings case, where the local authority was initially seeking an interim care order in respect of my client’s two children, and that he vacate the family home, which eventually resulted in proceedings concluding some five months later with no order being made. This was a really positive outcome for the client, and it spurred me on and gave me the confidence I needed to then take on more care proceedings cases once I qualified.
It was great to always be able to ask my supervisors questions about my cases, and have them check work I had completed, to make sure nothing had been missed. The Children team within the Family department as a whole are so welcoming and there isn’t anyone I would feel uncomfortable going to for help or advice if my supervisors weren’t available at the time.
I loved completing my training contract at the same time as three other trainees, as it meant there was always someone who was going through the same thing, and we could either go to the Professional Skills Courses (PSC) together or recommend ones that we found most helpful or interesting. When we finished our training contract, the firm kindly put money towards a qualification celebration for all four of us, where we were able to rent out the rooftop of a bar nearby where the firm could come and celebrate with us.
If anyone is thinking about joining TV Edwards LLP with a view to completing their training contact, I would strongly recommend doing so, as the experience you gain, and the people you work with really are so valuable.