As a large UK firm, Ashfords have six offices across the south of England. These include London, Plymouth, Tiverton, Taunton, Exeter (the head office), and Bristol where I am based. I first came to Bristol 8 years ago to complete my law degree, then came the LPC, which was followed by 3 years as a paralegal before finally joining Ashfords as a Trainee. Bristol has come to be home to me and in particular the Bristol office which goes from strength to strength.
The Bristol legal market is one of the fastest growing outside of London and many other firms are now seeking to set up offices here as they recognise the fantastic opportunities that Bristol represents. Having been long established in the Bristol market, Ashfords has managed to get ahead of its competitors and build a strong and ever growing presence in the region.
The office itself consists of roughly 50 people split across various departments. As a trainee it can be daunting coming into a new office where everyone knows each other and has already built working relationships. Any apprehension I had when joining was quickly dispelled as the Bristol team are very welcoming and friendly. The benefit of being a smaller office means that we are a very social group and regular social events take place, ranging from official Ashfords events like the end of year drinks to more informal outings such as after work get-togethers. In addition to this we have a dress down policy every Friday and the firm provides 'Thursday Drinks' in the office each week which consists of free drinks, snacks and a chance to catch up with your colleagues. Compared to other firms I have worked in, Ashfords certainly values the work/life balance and has taken steps to ensure that everyone achieves the right level.
The office is perfectly situated in the centre of the city and only a five minute walk to the train station, main shopping areas and the majority of bars and restaurants. Being able to walk through the parks and visit the various food markets during your lunch break is certainly a major perk!
I am currently in my second seat and have settled into the firm well and am enjoying my life as a trainee. My first seat was in the Employment Team which gave me a real flavour for contentious law and litigation matters. I worked on a wide range of cases, each one more different than the last. I was given a lot of responsibility in managing the cases, client contact and the opportunity to go to court and assist the barrister that we had instructed on a matter.
In March I changed seats and am currently sat with the Corporate Team. I had previously been a Corporate paralegal so I was excited to move back to an area of law I was more familiar with. It has been fascinating to see how the team operates and the different types of work the Bristol Corporate team undertakes.
Overall, Bristol is a fantastic location to live and work. Further to that, the Bristol office is ever growing and presents a dynamic and ever changing place to work.