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We had a chat with trainee solicitor, Baljinder Boughan, to find out more about the life of a trainee solicitor at Bell and Buxton Solicitors, Sheffield.
Bal commenced her training contract with Bell & Buxton Solicitors in March 2018 and is due to qualify in August 2019.
Prior to this, Bal had worked at Bell & Buxton as a paralegal in the Property department for 3 years, specialising mainly in Residential Conveyancing.
What made you want to become a solicitor?
From a very young age I knew I wanted to help people, and after years of watching shows such as ‘The Bill’ and ‘Judge Judy’, it became clear to me that the law was such an integral part of every aspect of day to day life and I knew a career within this sector was something I wanted to pursue.
Which route did you take to get a training contract?
After studying for my GCSE’s and A Levels, I completed my law degree at Sheffield Hallam University. I started my Legal Practice Course at the University of Sheffield, but unfortunately things didn’t quite go to plan, and although I completed Stage 2, I didn’t complete my stage 1.
At this point, I had been working at Bell & Buxton for 3 years as a Paralegal. After speaking with them and with my family and knowing I had their full support, I decided to return to study and complete my stage 1 at the BPP in Leeds. During this time, I worked 4 days a week at Bell & Buxton, who released me one day a week to complete my studies.
Once I had completed my LPC I started looking for training contracts as this is the final stage needed to qualify as a solicitor.
When did you start your training contract?
In November 2017, Matthew Rodgers, Partner at Bell & Buxton offered me a training contract and I immediately burst into tears! I commenced the training in March 2018 and am due to complete on the 29th August 2019. Ordinarily it takes 2 years to complete the training, however, due to my previous experience and performance as a paralegal at Bell & Buxton, my completion date was reduced by 6 months, this is known as ‘time to count’.
What does a trainee solicitor contract involve?
A trainee solicitor spends their time working in a law firm, rotating around, usually, 4 different departments. These are known as seats, and a trainee spends up to 6 months in each one. These are chosen based on business needs and which areas of law the trainee is particularly interested in. Whilst in each department, you are supervised by a qualified solicitor who trains you, manages your workload and monitors your progress.
During my training contract, I have already spent time in the Family Department under the supervision of Demelza Wrigley and I am currently under the supervision of Matthew Rodgers in the Commercial Property Department. Before I complete my contract, I will spend time in Litigation under the supervision of Emma Digby and the Contentious Probate Department under the supervision of John Breeze and Katie Winslow.
Once you have completed your training contract, your law firm may choose to retain you if there is a role available in the Department you choose to specialise in, or you may start looking for a role elsewhere.
What do you enjoy most about the training contract?
I really enjoy being able to go into each department at Bell & Buxton and get a real sense of fulfilment from learning a new set of skills and knowledge from supervisors who are experts in their field. It’s so important to learn every aspect of each department, and the time spent in each one enables you to decide which area of law you’d like to specialise in.
What has the training contract been like for you?
Most people complete their LPC and start a training contract with a law firm immediately with no previous experience of working in a law firm. I did things slightly differently by working as a paralegal at Bell & Buxton for a few years first. This time allowed me to gain practical experience and interpersonal skills, and the opportunity to work with experts in every department.
The experience I had from Bell & Buxton meant I understood every aspect of working in a law firm, from opening a file, to closing the file and all the admin tasks in-between!
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of a career as a solicitor?
I would advise anyone who wants a career as a solicitor to get as much experience as they can in a law firm. From being in 6th form at school, I used to take any opportunity I could to work in a local law firm and it allowed me to see what the job actually involved before I embarked on any training.
I would also say that perseverance and determination are key to succeeding, things don’t always go to plan but with some hard work you will get there in the end!
What is a solicitor training contract at Bell & Buxton Solicitors like?
Bell & Buxton is like working with a family, everyone is so supportive and there is a real team work ethos at the firm. As a firm they really seem to support each and every person, whether it’s the younger solicitors coming through who they can support and invest in or the people with children who are able to work part-time, it’s a really great firm.
What are your future aspirations?
My aspirations were always to get a training contract as I knew that being a solicitor was what I wanted to do. After wanting it for so long, I feel very lucky that I’m almost qualified and can’t wait to continue progressing even further in my chosen field.