Anna-Laura Lock's Diary
Having chosen to study a non-legal degree at University I was keen to spend my training contract at a firm with a broad range of practice areas and an emphasis on nurturing its trainees.
Luckily Winckworth Sherwood is a good place to experience this type of training. A trainee's day at the firm is not consumed with endless photocopying and other menial tasks. From day one a trainee is fully involved, accompanying Partners to meetings, engaging with clients and working on live files. I have also found that, across the firm, both Partners and associates take an active interest in making sure that the department trainee is involved in their work.
My first seat was spent in the firm's Housing department. Almost immediately, I was able to work on my own files, with supervision, and was happy to find that those land law principles that were often so difficult to understand at Law School made sense in the context of a property seat. During my time in the department I was able to experience the course of many transactions from start to finish, from small scale acquisitions of residential street properties to larger acquisitions of development sites and negotiations of complicated sale contracts.
I moved onto a second seat in the firm's Matrimonial department. I really enjoyed my Family Law elective at Law School and so this department was a major reason for choosing to apply to Winckworth Sherwood for my training contract. I was immediately immersed in the thick of the department given the opportunity to experience the many different aspects of being a Matrimonial solicitor. During my time in the department, I frequently attended the Principal Registry and became familiar with Court processes and procedures. On a day-to-day basis, I attended initial client meetings, helped prepare briefs to Counsel, negotiated divorce settlements and drafted court documents. I had a lot of client contact from the very beginning which gave me the chance to increase my confidence and get to grips with family law in practice. One of the highlights of my time in the department was helping to organise a debate, hosted at Winckworth Sherwood, on Collaborative Family Law. The motion was argued by leading family law partners from other firms in London and was attended by barristers and solicitors from firms in London and the surrounding areas. It was a fascinating event and an excellent opportunity for a trainee to absorb and listen to the opinions and arguments of senior solicitors.
At the start of each seat, it is not unusual to feel slightly apprehensive about leaving a department where you have grown to be more experienced and familiar. It is always the case, when the six months are up, that you feel the most comfortable about the law and able to correspond with clients and other solicitors confidently. It would be very easy to stay in the seat for a further six months! Now that I am in my final seat in the firm, I realise that this is the beauty of a training contract and one of the reasons that Winckworth Sherwood is a good training provider. At the start of each new seat you bring with you the skills and confidence that you have obtained elsewhere in the firm. Your training is then continued by a different Partner, with a different approach in order to build and develop the training that you already have obtained elsewhere.
I spent my third seat in the Employment department, sitting with Partner Jo Keddie. Again from the very start of my seat, I was interacting with clients and other solicitors, helping negotiate and finalise employment contracts and facilitating the best possible departure for our clients. During my time in the department I was also able to attend Employment Tribunal hearings with the client and Counsel. In fact, one of the highlights of my time in the department was attending a three day hearing and receiving a favourable judgment. I particularly enjoyed experiencing the full course of the hearing and achieving the right result for our client.
Throughout my time at Winckworth Sherwood I have been allocated work by both solicitors and Partners. At all times I feel that I have been supported and I have never felt too scared to ask a question. The training at Winckworth Sherwood has given me the opportunity to learn, train and develop as a solicitor. There is always someone available to listen to your question, no matter how silly you may think it sounds.
I would recommend applying for a training contract at Winckworth Sherwood. The purpose of a training contract is to become a well-rounded and well-trained solicitor, and I believe that this firm provides a good training platform which allows trainees to flourish.
Anna- Laura Lock is now Associate in Winckworth Sherwood's Family department.