Having recently qualified, and then accepted a solicitor role in the Social Welfare department, Emily Black has been reflecting on her time as a trainee solicitor at the firm.
I had long been warned about the drastic jump from trainee to fully qualified solicitor, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this change has been. I put that down to the training I have received over the last three years at TV Edwards. In this post I will set out what my period of recognised training looked like, and why I would recommend training at TV Edwards to any aspiring solicitors.
I began working at TV Edwards as a paralegal in September 2019
It was a great feeling to be having such positive outcomes so early on in my career, and I was grateful to the firm for giving me this level of responsibility.
TV Edwards is a well-respected firm and the solicitors within the Social Welfare department, and the firm in general, have excellent reputations. Whilst this was initially daunting, I was very quickly made to feel welcome and like one of the team. Working in the Social Welfare department comes with its challenges, as many of our clients are facing extremely difficult situations, so it’s great to be able to rely on my colleagues for support. I have always felt able to approach anybody in the team with a question, no matter how big or small.
My period of recognised training began in the Social Welfare department, working mostly on housing cases.
From very early on, I was able to lead on cases, such as a case involving a client who had been released from prison without accommodation.
This included representing tenants in possession proceedings, and anti-social behaviour injunctions; assisting occupiers living in properties with poor housing conditions; and challenging local authority homeless decisions. From the very outset of my training, and even as a paralegal, I was gaining hands-on experience. I was meeting with clients directly to, for example, take their instructions and make applications for Legal Aid. I was attending court and clerking hearings, which was invaluable to see exactly what all the preparatory work amounted to. It was also important to be able to meet with barristers and provide a familiar face for clients in what can be an intimidating situation.
From very early on, I was able to lead on cases, such as a case involving a client who had been released from prison without accommodation. Both he and his probation officer had tried several times to secure housing from the local council but without success. Ultimately and following my representations, the local authority agreed to provide the client with suitable and safe housing. It was a great feeling to be having such positive outcomes so early on in my career, and I was grateful to the firm for giving me this level of responsibility.
I then spent six months in the Dispute Resolution department.
I worked exclusively with privately-paying clients and learned how to provide accurate costs estimates and regular costs updates to the clients.
I found this to be very interesting due to the breadth of work undertaken within the team. Each case required me to evaluate the problem the client was facing; research the surrounding legislation and case law; and develop a workable solution. I developed and strengthened my litigation skills and solidified my understanding of the Civil Procedure Rules. Significantly in this department I worked exclusively with privately-paying clients and learned how to provide accurate costs estimates and regular costs updates to the clients.
I then returned to the Social Welfare department and assisted both Monica Kreel and Nilufer Ozdemir.
I learned how to work effectively with those who lack capacity by carrying out visits to hospitals and care homes.
Monica’s case load was full of interesting and varied community care and Court of Protection cases, and Nilufer had a broad understanding of the workings of the Court of Protection. I was assisting in challenging the deprivation of liberty of individuals who lacked capacity to make decisions about their care and residence. Again, I was able to lead on my own case very quickly (under supervision), which I have kept with me into qualification. I learned how to work effectively with those who lack capacity by carrying out visits to hospitals and care homes to meet with clients diagnosed with, for example, dementia. I learned how to run cases where we are instructed by the Official Solicitor. Again, throughout, I was gaining hands-on experience with attending court and round table meetings.
I ended my period of recognised training back in the housing side of the Social Welfare department.
I was able to learn quickly how to manage a busy workload and prioritise tasks.
I was assisting the joint Head of our department, Katie Brown. By this time, I had a number of my own cases and using all the skills I had gained throughout my period of training, I was able to learn quickly how to manage a busy workload and prioritise tasks. I was taking responsibility for the steps required on my cases. I ran one case in which my client, who had learning difficulties, was due to be evicted by his landlord. I managed to persuade the landlord to give our client another chance to stay in his home, and the local authority to pay £4,000 into our client’s rent account. I ran another case where a single mother and her five-year-old son were living in a refuge after fleeing domestic violence, and the local authority refused to accept her homeless application. I persuaded the local authority to accept her application, and they ultimately decided that they owed her the main housing duty.
Running these cases, whilst being able to ask my supervisor any questions I had, means I now have a number of example cases that I can refer to throughout my career. I feel confident in my own skills to draft an effective letter before claim, bring a claim to court against a landlord for poor housing conditions, and find ways to assist tenants to defend possession proceedings and stay in their home.
The social aspect of your working life cannot be overlooked.
I find being able to go to the pub with my colleagues throughout the firm a lifesaver after a stressful week. This is a regular occurrence at TV Edwards, and there is never any feeling of hierarchy about it – I’ve been able to share a drink with my fellow junior staff or the managing partner!
I qualified in September 2022, and I was offered a role as a solicitor within the Social Welfare department.
The support that is provided by the heads of the department, and all of my colleagues, is invaluable and so I cannot think of anywhere else I would rather start my qualified career. I felt very well-prepared for the jump in responsibility, and I have been able to continue seeking support from my supervisor whenever required.
Training at TV Edwards has enabled me to be a confident, conscientious, resilient, and passionate solicitor. I would recommend the firm to anybody who has those goals!