Meet the Trainee - Stephanie O'Hare

Friday, 24th February 2017

What were you doing before you joined the firm?

Before I joined Ashfords I worked at Aston Martin and a private practice firm called Wright Hassall Solicitors. Initially I applied for a job in the purchasing department in Aston Martin, as I was still deliberating if law was for me. However, my role quickly moved into the legal sector, where I predominantly found myself working on Aston Martin's bespoke terms and conditions, which involved a lot of negotiation with a variety of suppliers and hosting legal workshops for the buyers' benefit. This was a really good experience into how an in-house legal team works, but it also reinforced my opinion that I wanted to pursue a career in law. The in-house legal team within Aston Martin did not offer training contracts and so, to gain better experience, I decided to change my job role, which ultimately led me into private practice.

Why Ashfords?

When I applied for the training contract, I was already working as a paralegal in the Projects Team. The Projects department in London was relatively small, and so I had a lot of responsibility from the ground running. I supported a partner in the construction and operation of project related matters worth in excess of £50 million. It was through this relatively short experience that motivated me to apply to Ashfords for a training contract, as I knew the training would be exceptional and I would have a broad range of seats to pick from. In addition, during my paralegal experience I found Ashfords to be a very friendly and supportive environment, which reinforced my opinion that Ashfords was the best firm to undertake my training contract.

What areas of law have you worked in so far?

My first seat was in Commercial Property. This mainly involved me reviewing and amending leases, rent deposit deeds and preparing land registry applications. My second seat was in Projects. In this seat I predominantly assisted a partner with reviewing and drafting engineering procuring contracts, operation and maintenance contracts, and generally advising SPVs on the financing and construction and operation of energy from waste biomass plants. My third and current seat is in Property Litigation. In this seat I have drafted letters before action, witness statements, cost budgets, application notices and prepared bundles ahead of important meetings, case management conferences and trials.

Most interesting case you have worked on?

For most of my training contract I have done non-contentious work in Commercial Property and Projects. This has involved me working on some interesting matters, such as reviewing and marking up an overage contract, or marking up a project manager's appointment. However, whilst in the Property Litigation department, I have assisted on a licence for alterations claim, which ended up in trial. In this claim, we act for the freehold company who own a property. The freehold company is made up of 11 lessees, and one of the lessees requested a licence to carry out alterations. However, it was rejected by one of the other lessees, on the ground that the lease does not permit this type of alteration. This case had been going on for about 1 year before I joined, and it recently ended up in trial, which I had the opportunity to attend. Unfortunately, our client did not win; however, we are in the process of issuing an appeal, which is very interesting.   

What has been your biggest challenge at Ashfords?

For me the biggest challenge during my training contract is rotating every six months into a new department, especially if it is a completely new area of law that you have never worked on. I think it is also really important to understand the team dynamics, which at first can be quite challenging as you have to learn new styles and adapt to new ways of thinking. However, I have found that in each of the seats I have worked in, the teams have been very welcoming and supportive and I've have had the opportunity to gain a high level of responsibility from day one.

What is your favourite thing about working at Ashfords?

It has to be the occasional free Pret A Manger lunch, and of course the people! 

What is your aspiration?

To get a NQ job in September, in the field that interests me the most!