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Meet the trainee – Cara White

What were you doing before you joined the firm?

Prior to starting my training contract, I worked as a paralegal in the Real Estate team at Ashfords. I would highly recommend the ‘paralegal route’ to starting a training contract as it gives you a great opportunity to get to know the firm and its culture, allowing you to hit the ground running on the first day of your training contract.

Before starting at Ashfords, I studied BSc Criminology, and the full-time Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at Cardiff University. The GDL was very intense, however, for this very reason, it showed great motivation and determination to pursue a career in law during the training contract application process.

Following the GDL, I studied the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at Exeter University, where I met other future Ashfords trainees. It was great to get to know them prior to starting my training contract, and it made the first day a lot less scary!

Why Ashfords?

Ashfords was always a popular choice of mine, as I knew that I wanted to stay in the South West, but work for a law firm that offered high quality and diverse work. I knew that Ashfords had a brilliant reputation both locally and nationally, and I was impressed by the broad range of practice areas that it offered.

I also admired Ashfords’ commitment to corporate social responsibility, which has become ever more apparent since I have started working at the firm. The recent launch of the Ashfords Foundation is a great example of this. It aims to support charities and community organisations in local areas where Ashfords staff live and work.

The trainees at Ashfords are actively encouraged to get involved in fundraising initiatives and, just recently, I teamed up with 14 others to take on the National Three Peaks Challenge in aid of the Ashfords Foundation and the Calvert Trust Exmoor. The fact that we were all still smiling at the top of each of the three peaks goes to show just how much fun we had!

What areas of law have you worked in so far?

I was both a Paralegal and Trainee (in my first seat) in the Real Estate team. I assisted on a full range of Real Estate legal services for a varied client base. This included commercial and private developers, housing associations, investors and local authorities.

My second (and current) seat is in the Company Commercial department, where I work closely with the Energy and Waste team. I have been exposed to a broad range of Energy and Waste matters and, given the cross-departmental nature of many of the projects, I have been fortunate enough to have worked closely with specialists from across the firm in the Construction and Infrastructure, Corporate, Employment, Planning, Environmental, Health and Safety, and Real Estate teams.

What is the most interesting case that you have worked on?

I have worked on a variety of interesting cases, but one that stands out was acting for a Council on a Sale and Overage Agreement made between the Council and a Housing Developer. I attended board meetings, and was in charge of taking minutes and circulating documentation. I was also responsible for the production of summary reports and flow charts of the Sale and Overage Agreement to provide to members of the Council, so as to enable them to fully understand the transaction and to avoid confusion with the use of legal jargon. 

What has been your biggest challenge at Ashfords?

The biggest challenge that I have faced at Ashfords has been rotating seats every six months. It is a daunting experience to be moved to an area of law that you are unfamiliar with (especially after you have just gotten to grips with the area of law in your previous seat!). However, that being said, every team that I have moved to has been very welcoming and supportive. It doesn’t take long to find your feet and I have no doubt that the varied knowledge and experience that I will have gained from sitting in four different departments will be invaluable in the future.

What is your favourite thing about working at Ashfords?

Without a doubt, it is the people. Everyone at Ashfords is friendly, approachable and supportive, and this is reflective of the overall culture of the firm.

What is your aspiration?

To gain an NQ role at Ashfords in my preferred area of law. 

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