Meet the Trainee - Olivia Cassells

  • 3 mins read

What were you doing before you joined the firm?

I came to Ashfords as a 'career changer', having worked a few different jobs in the 8 years since graduation, most recently as a sales manager for a large London-based property developer. I also have a son who was almost one when I started studying the GDL part-time at University of Law, before moving on to complete the LPC full-time at the same centre.

Why Ashfords?

Having already lived in the South West for fifteen years, I was keen to stay local but wanted to work in a good sized commercial firm with a variety of practice areas and multiple offices. Ashfords was the perfect fit for me and so I felt very fortunate to be offered a training contract.

What areas of law have you worked in so far?

My first seat was in commercial property which was a positive start, as it played to my strengths from my property background and this made up (in part) for my lack of experience in legal work, having never worked in a law firm before. This is a practice area where trainees are able to have a lot of responsibility early on, and you get plenty of client contact. My second seat was in construction working mainly in large scale disputes, which was completely different in the type of work I was assisting in, but again, in a field which I was quite familiar with. I am now based in Projects, which is a non-contentious transactional seat, but for large infrastructure and energy projects.

Most interesting case you have worked on?

I have assisted in a dispute relating to an energy from waste plant supplying gas to grid where various delays to construction and testing meant that the plant failed to pass the tests required by the contract. I found the whole process fascinating from the choice of dispute resolution procedure which would be appropriate, to growing my understanding of the actual technology being used and the commercial challenges of the industry.

What has been your biggest challenge at Ashfords?

I moved to Exeter not knowing anyone, only shortly before my training contract with a pre-school child and so for me settling into a new area, job and social scene has been a juggling act, but the warm reception I have received from all the people here has made it much easier than expected.

What is your favourite thing about working at Ashfords?

The activities and culture. Extra-curricular activities are strongly encouraged and we have a gym and yoga sessions running through lunch times. Lots of people go out running in groups, and there are lots of events you can take part in to raise money for the charity of the year, not only running but swimming cycling and obstacle courses. There is also a family friendly attitude at the firm and that was a really important factor for me.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself

I am a black belt in kickboxing, I used to compete and I trained in Thailand.

What is your aspiration?

I am really interested in sustainable development and clean energy and aspire to be part of a legal team delivering a news-worthy project, either at the cutting edge of new technology or facilitating infrastructure that will change lives and span generations.

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