by Mary Foster
The final stage of my journey to become a fully qualified solicitor began when I was offered a training contract at Archers Law LLP, one of the leading, full service law firms in the Tees Valley.
I commenced my formal training contract in September 2017 with a first seat in the Family department. The training at Archers Law involves a structured development programme with four seats. I have since completed further seats in Corporate Law and Wills, Probate and Trusts and I recently started my final seat in the Commercial Property department in March 2019. I have been fortunate to undertake my training with a great firm with a fantastic reputation throughout the Tees Valley. I have found the work at times challenging, but always very rewarding. Recently I volunteered to be one of the two Trainee Representatives for the Tees Valley Law Society. The Tees Valley Law Society is the representative body for local solicitors in private practice and in-house and the Society has been in place for nearly 150 years. The other Trainee Representative and I have been tasked with relaunching the Junior Lawyers Division in the Tees Valley. We’re very excited to be involved in this initiative and are looking forward to organising several events over the next year. Watch this space!
As I am currently living in County Durham and since my new role involved travelling to Archer’s base in Stockton, I purchased my beloved blue VW polo for the commute. My work so far as a trainee has taken me to clients’ offices all over the North East, networking events, Middlesbrough Court, and TVLS council meetings every couple of months which are often held at Darlington. From my first day as a trainee solicitor it was clear that Archers Law would be a great place to work. Everybody seemed organised and dedicated to their clients and the profession and I knew that this was a wonderful opportunity to advance my career, and there was lots of interesting work to get involved with. One of the things I like most about the training contract is the chance to experience different departments and work with experts.
A typical day in the Wills, Probate and Trusts department consists of arriving at the office before 9:00am, switching on my computer, checking my diary for the day and responding to urgent emails. I might attend a client to take instructions, prepare a draft will or assist solicitors in the department by researching the law such as the rules that apply in relation to assets abroad. Following a swift break for lunch, I might prepare a draft lasting power of attorney or accompany a solicitor on a home or hospital visit. The day usually ends at five o’clock although sometimes the day can run on according to our client’s needs.
One of the Law Society requirements of the training contract is the completion of the Professional Skills Course. I enrolled on the course fairly early and began the first module, Financial and Business Skills in March 2018. This element of the course is spread over three weeks, one day per week and is followed by an exam. Having spent time at weekends revising, I was thrilled to achieve a good pass. There are two other compulsory core modules, Advocacy and Client Care, plus four other electives of your choice. I enjoyed going back to University, taking part in mock trials and listening to experienced legal professionals speak about their fields of expertise.
Working as a trainee solicitor in the Tees Valley has been a fantastic experience. I have been able to attend many networking events throughout the region. Such events provide the opportunity to meet other professionals, consider any potential business ideas and generally interesting and good fun. Last year I joined the professional networking group, Younger Guns. So far, I have attended a bowling social evening at Lane 7 as well as a Christmas quiz at the delightful Barbarossa Pizza in Middlesbrough. In my role as Trainee Representative I am working to establish a Junior Lawyers Division for the Tees Valley Law Society, which aims to provide young lawyers with an opportunity to meet and discuss ideas.