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Meet the Trainee - Isobel Massey

What were you doing before you joined the firm?

Having been lucky enough to secure a placement at the University of Wollongong, Australia during my third year of university, I was a little far away to get fully involved in the training contract process. Having returned to the UK and completed my law degree at the University of Exeter in 2015 I decided to take some time to gain work experience before applying to do my LPC. It was only during my LPC that I began applying for training contracts and I was fortunate to secure a training contract with Ashfords. As if things couldn’t get any better, Ashfords asked if I could start my training contract in two weeks' time.  I have to think that it was meant to be!

Why Ashfords? 

With a love for the South West and all it has to offer (including of course incredible surfing beaches!), I wanted to work for a firm that would allow me to enjoy a South West lifestyle whilst still offering a national full-service work base and high-quality clients. Ashfords really provides the perfect balance. I was also attracted to Ashfords' strong corporate social responsibility and in particular, the firm's active commitment to supporting the green community and making the business as environmentally sustainable as possible. How many trainees can say that they work for a firm with its very own bee colony?

What areas of law have you worked in so far?

My first seat was in the Commercial Property Department where I assisted the team with a wide variety of commercial property transactions, with a particular focus on landlord and tenant matters. During this time I was responsible for the running of the leasehold management of an extensive portfolio of warehouse properties for a large philanthropic foundation. I was of course was heavily supported by my supervisor, but this experience thoroughly developed my case management skills.

My second seat was in the Family Department. Having always had a strong interest in family law, I was excited to join the team and learn whether this area of law was truly for me. I gained a broad range of experience in the context of relationship breakdown, including assisting fee earners with divorce and financial matters and private children law matters. I really enjoyed the contentious nature of the work and in particular, accompanying Counsel in court. 

Having enjoyed my seat in Family, I wanted to remain within the umbrella of Private Client so I was lucky to secure my third seat with the Trusts and Estates Team. One month into the seat I am enjoying the broad range of experience that the department has to offer, including preparing Wills, LPAs and the Administration of Estates. I am also lucky to be working for our Disputed Wills Team, where I am able to assist with all matters arising out of contentious Wills, Trusts and Estates.

Most interesting case you have worked on?

The most interesting case to date has to be a private children law matter which I was heavily involved in.  Unfortunately, the very nature of private children matters is of course private so I am unable to give much away!  By way of a very general summary, the case involved high net worth individuals, drug testing and hearings at the Central Family Court in London.

What has been your biggest challenge at Ashfords?

The biggest challenge had to be moving to Exeter to start my training contract within such a short timeframe. It was all very exciting but a little overwhelming moving to a new city and having to find somewhere to live with only two weeks before my start date!  Despite being a little daunting, I settled into Ashfords very quickly. I don’t know what I was so worried about!

What is your favourite thing about working at Ashfords?

It has to be the people and culture of the firm. Ashfords really strives to support its staff by creating a positive working environment.  My favourite wellbeing initiative has to be the yoga classes on offer at lunchtime. As a bit of a yogi myself, being able to break up my working day with a yoga class is a real bonus. As well as supporting its staff, Ashfords also actively encourages its staff to get involved with new initiatives, valuing fresh ideas.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself

I like to make the most out of living in the South West and use my Sundays to volunteer for the Wave Project in South Devon.

What is your aspiration?

In the short term I hope to return to the Family Department for my final seat.  Looking a little further ahead, I hope to qualify as a solicitor with Ashfords in September 2018.  Long term, I aspire to become expert in my chosen practice area and be respected amongst my colleagues.  I also wouldn’t mind a house right by the beach!