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Meet the Trainee - Matt Damant

What were you doing before you joined the firm?

I secured my training contract at the end of my final year at Exeter University. I was completing a Graduate LLB, having previously studied History. I celebrated by having nothing to do with law for a year, working in a hotel and recharging the batteries ready for the LPC. The rest as they say is history.

Why Ashfords?

I moved to Exeter in 2011 to start university and very quickly fell in love with Devon and the perks of the South West. Aside from the great scenery (and accents), Exeter is a fast developing city with great prospects and Ashfords epitomised that growth with being highly regarded across the South West and nationally. There is a great balance of high quality work and very talented lawyers, set amongst the backdrop of Devon, with a work-life balance to match. I knew it was a friendly firm from my vacation scheme, and am now thoroughly enjoying being in such a supportive and collaborative working environment.

What areas of law have you worked in so far?

I had no previous paralegal experience, so my first seat in Public Sector was my first real experience outside of assessment centres and work experience. A challenging first seat but one I took a great deal of valuable experience from. My second seat was in Real Estate, supporting a range of fee earners with varied and interesting working including development, commercial leases and waste to energy projects. I am now in my third seat in the Tiverton office with the trusts and estates team. A completely different type of work and one I am enjoying immensely.

Most interesting case you have worked on?

I was very lucky to have a sustained role in the acquisition of a shopping centre during my time in Real Estate. This involved a considerable amount of due diligence and pulling together all the information being prepared by my colleagues was a brilliant insight and experience of a large scale property transaction. I felt like I had made a real contribution to the project which was very satisfying. Although I think I’ve seen enough leases for now!

What has been your biggest challenge at Ashfords?

It has certainly been adopting and embracing the professional lifestyle. You don’t fully appreciate how different studying and practicing law are until you’re in the thick of it. It stops just being about textbook law and becomes far more about managing workload, deadlines and people (both your peers and your clients). Learning how to step into that role and behave like a lawyer has been a big learning curve. It will certainly continue to be that way well into the future. Luckily I have fantastic people around me to learn from.

What is your favourite thing about working at Ashfords?

I’m sure people at Ashfords must sound like a broken record when they say the people, but the friendliness and welcoming nature is not something I have experienced anywhere else. You definitely feel part of something, not just at your desk but with firm wide initiatives and activities. From lunchtime yoga, to taking part in a variety of sports events despite questionable fitness and ability, to helping run charity quizzes, you are part of a real culture and community, not just a law firm.

Second favourite thing would be the Tiverton office, it’s like working inside a piece of history!

What is your aspiration?

After all the years of studying and training, to be able to say I’m a qualified solicitor will be a special moment. Beyond that, I want to continue to build up my reputation to become recognised in my field by my peers and be part of a successful team. After all, its that team ethos that makes Ashfords.

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