Jenni Atwill is in her third seat in commercial litigation with a firm in Salisbury and will qualify at the end of year. She explains that there is more to legal practice in Wiltshire than meets the eye.
Before I started my training contract I was given an extensive list of seats to choose from, including commercial property, corporate, employment, commercial litigation, insurance litigation, personal injury/clinical negligence, family, farms and estates and private client. Secondments are sometimes offered in conjunction with a seat in the corporate team. Trainees are also far more likely to have a say in what seats they would prefer to experience. Trethowans asks new trainees for a wish list of seats to specify which teams they would like experience in (or which ones they would like to avoid!) and their views are genuinely taken into account when allocating the available seats. This concept of a tailor-made training contract is certainly a big selling point when deciding which firms to apply for.
Career for life
In terms of business development, there are plenty of opportunities available in the local area, with networking groups such as Salisbury Young Professionals (SYP) and Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) being the most popular for trainees and young lawyers. The SYP committee is formed of trainees and monthly events are arranged to encourage young lawyers to interact with peers in a relaxed atmosphere. Although Salisbury is a relatively small city, there is a surprisingly strong business community which is very welcoming to new entrants, enabling contacts and professional relationships to be developed early on in a legal career.
Without a doubt, the biggest advantage of training in Salisbury is the excellent work/life balance that every solicitor can enjoy. Individuals are encouraged to have a life outside the office, and, while some teams may require a couple of all nighters before a particularly large completion, it is rare that a trainee will have to stay later than 7pm.
From a long-term perspective, a reputable regional firm is generally a good option for career progression. Having invested so much time and effort into a small number of individuals, firms are more likely to subscribe to the train and retain policy with the intention of offering positions once the training contract has been completed.
Having worked for over a year, I have experienced life in both the Southampton and Salisbury offices and can honestly say that Salisbury is a city like no other. With the towering spire of the medieval cathedral and the historic landscape of Stonehenge, Salisbury is a picturesque city with a thriving professional community, offering a great deal more than tractors and wellington boots!
"Tailor-made training” was first published in Young Lawyer on 16 February 2012, and is reproduced by kind permission.