What were you doing before you joined the firm?
Prior to joining Ashfords I worked as a paralegal in Financing at Slaughter and May in London, specialising in Debt Capital Markets. I then moved to Devon to begin my training contract in September 2016.
Having completed Vac Schemes in City and regional firms, I decided that coming back to the South West to pursue my career was the best option for me. At first I wasn't sure why one particular firm would stand out over another and it wasn't until I was invited to an Assessment Day at Ashfords that I made my decision. I had written a list of pros and cons to help me decide where I was most suited to as well as hoping that the particular firm I chose would also deem me to be a good fit for them. It turns out that Ashfords has lived up to their reputation of being a welcoming and friendly firm but with a high quality of work and focus on individual career progression.
What areas of law have you worked in so far?
My first seat was in the Planning department in Exeter, working alongside a Partner on a number of large housing developments and sites across the country. I attended a number of meetings for ongoing transactions to help me understand what part I would play as a Planning lawyer and really enjoyed learning about an area of law I had not previously come across. My second seat was in Commercial and IP in Exeter. I had only briefly touched on IP in my first year at university so it was a steep learning curve, but I particularly enjoyed learning about EU and UK trade marks and assisting with the registration process. On the commercial side I got a lot of valuable drafting experience looking at terms and conditions for businesses to use online and conducting high level reviews of contracts for larger clients. My third seat was in the Tiverton office undertaking commercial and rural property work. Initially I thought the seat would be mainly focused on agricultural property however I have drafted grazing licences and deeds to establish drainage rights and then another day a number of leases for properties in London, with definitely not a sheep in sight! My final seat will be in the Corporate department in the Bristol office and I'm really looking forward to gaining a further six months experience in a different area of law before I qualify in September 2018.
Most interesting case you have worked on?
During my seat in Commercial and IP I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to get involved in a case involving the alleged copyright of a handbag. The French designer alleged that a bag they had made a number of years ago had been copied by a UK designer. I undertook research into historic copyright law and whether the French designer could rely on any other IP right to bring a successful claim of infringement. It was a particularly interesting point of law and I inadvertently learnt a lot more about designer handbags in the process!
What has been your biggest challenge at Ashfords?
Although moving seats generally every six months is a big challenge, I think the hardest part has been just trying to decide what I would like to do when I qualify and to try and undertake a broad range of seats over the two years. With so many seat options and the opportunity to move to a different office for six months it hasn't been easy to know what to choose every time the rotation comes around. However I have tried to take as much out of each seat as I can whether I have decided it is an area of law for me or not, so that I can be as well-rounded and prepared for qualification as possible.
What is your favourite thing about working at Ashfords?
The genuine interest that is taken in all staff here, legal and non-legal, and the opportunity to provide feedback to improve our working environment each year. Also by the time I qualify I will have worked in the Bristol, Exeter and Tiverton offices and also been in London every now and again. Having the chance to work across the offices means you get to know more colleagues and become well-integrated with the firm as a whole. You never know when you might need some advice from another colleague's specialism on a complex matter and spending time across the offices can enable you to do just that.
What is your aspiration?
In the short term, to take on board as much as I can in my final seat and then apply and hopefully obtain an NQ job in September 2018. In the long term, to keep my drive and dedication to succeed, but also maintain a good work/life balance. I can't be away from my skis or surfboard for too long!