Guest Student Blog: Emma McKinstry talks about her work placement at Ashtons Legal

Guest post by Emma McKinstry, LLB Law with Business

Last September I was fortunate enough to spend a week with Ashtons Legal, in the Fornham St. Martins office. Placed with the Lifetime Planning team my role was to shadow the solicitors in the department and assist with anything they needed to be done. My main tasks included reviewing will, probate administration and related files and drafting documents. With the hope of building on transferrable legal skills such as client interviewing, organisational skills, information handling and communications skills that are appropriate in professional working environment. As graduation quickly approaches, I have been asked to reflect on my experience with Ashtons.

On my first day we had lunch with a group of trainee solicitors, this lunch really made me consider how I am to further my professional development and the different routes I can take with regards to training contracts. I was especially glad to have discussed my options with trainee solicitors, as they were currently going through the process and could offer stories of their own personal experiences of working with Ashtons, and the contrasting methods of training available to graduates. Hearing their experiences of the training contract process and how much they enjoyed working at Ashtons was extremely helpful in considering my own future applications and career.

Ashtons Staff outside the office at Fornham Business Court near Bury St Edmunds.

The department was very open, partners had no separate office and worked alongside trainee solicitors. I believe this created a very supportive and friendly culture that made me feel confident in asking questions and for advice. Working alongside both partners and trainees also offered me valuable insight into the progression and knowledge that is made throughout years of experience. I particularly enjoyed sitting in client interviews with a variety of solicitors as it meant I was exposed to different practical styles – witnessing the similarities and differences of how each solicitor applied the law to practice. This made me consider how as a potential trainee I would approach my own interviews in the future. Observing these interviews also makes such a difference as a student, being able to interact with clients and observe their needs allows you to develop your professional conduct and apply practical knowledge to what you learn in lectures.

The responsibilities given to me throughout the week gave me my first insight into what I will eventually be doing as a potential trainee solicitor, serving to strengthen my confidence in approach to my career. Unfortunately, many solicitors are stretched with a hectic workload and you cannot always be prioritised during your experience, so it is important to remind them that you are available and keen to help, no matter how annoying you may feel! I left my experience with a wallet full of business cards, teaching me that enthusiasm and confidence to take on more responsibility, means colleagues are more likely to send good opportunities your way.

Overall, I found my week at Ashtons very valuable and enjoyable. I was made to feel so welcome and the whole experience further encouraged my interest in pursuing a career in law.

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