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Emily Holland - Trainee Solicitor (September 2012 - September 2014)

Emily Holland qualified as a Solicitor with Martin Tolhurst in September 2014 and is currently employed as a Private Client Solicitor.

Emily discusses her time as a Trainee and the transition to her current role.

Where and what did you study at University before you were accepted for a Training Contract with Martin Tolhurst?

I studied for my undergraduate degree in English and Philosophy at the University of Bristol. I didn’t consider doing a law degree at university, as I intended to keep my options open at this early stage. It wasn’t until part way through my degree that I considered a legal career as a possibility, and since reaching that decision, I haven’t looked back!

What work had you done before you started your training, including work placements and voluntary work? Did your work experience prove useful?

My first job was at a department store which certainly taught me customer care skills which are invaluable, in my opinion, in any career. Whilst at university I worked as a peer mentor for incoming first year students to help them transition into independence and life at university. I really enjoyed this as it was rewarding to be able to use the experiences I had had when starting university to help others. I also worked for the university’s Newspaper as the Arts section editor. I thoroughly enjoyed this role, but it did confirm that a life in journalism wasn’t for me. It was as a result of this that I sought work experience in alternative industries, and I secured work experience with Martin Tolhurst at the Ashford office.

When and why did you decide to become a solicitor with Martin Tolhurst?

I started my Training Contract in September 2012 and qualified in September 2014. Prior to this I was working as an administration assistant with MTP in my university holidays and my relationship with the firm grew to the extent that I was offered a training contact which I was delighted to accept.

How did you get a place at Martin Tolhurst and what did you do before?

My initial application to Martin Tolhurst was in fact for work experience. Work experience turned into a summer administration assistance job, assisting the conveyancers with file opening, searches, draft contracts, etc, and I was allowed to sit in on client appointments in both the matrimonial and private client departments. It was as a result of my first stint with MTP that I was offered a training contract, in advance of me having completed the Graduate Diploma in Law and the Legal Practice Course. The summer work and work experience I had with MTP confirmed to me that I wanted a career in the legal industry, and I was very pleased to accept the offer of a Training Contract with the firm that gave me my first insight into the profession. The firm supported me through my Graduate Diploma in Law and my Legal Practice Course, and I started my Training Contract two years later.

What does a typical day as a trainee solicitor look like?

For me, I was very much thrown in the deep end, and after a short period of time observing client meetings at the start of each seat, I was given my own client base. I would therefore manage my own case load as well as assisting other fee earners and Partners on their larger cases with drafting documents and forms and liaising with clients and other solicitors. Every day was different, and at no point did I feel like I was simply completing the same task/job over and over again.

What training and support did you receive whilst being a trainee solicitor?

I received training in family law, including divorce, finances and children matters; Private Client work, including estate administration, drafting Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, and Court of Protection work; litigation, dealing mainly with clients that had outstanding debts to the firm and seeking a County Court judgment against them; and dealing with property matters in relation to the above work such as Transfers of Equity and Declarations of Trust over property. I had excellent support from the fee earners that I assisted throughout my Training Contract who were always very keen to have me assist and get stuck in to the clients’ work, rather than just observing from a distance.

What are the best bits about being a trainee at Martin Tolhurst?

For me, it was having my own case load and client base with whom I could build a relationship. Even just two years on from qualification, I am already seeing returning clients who wish to see me, as a result of the relationships I was able to build during my Training Contract. In my opinion, this made the transition to a fully qualified Solicitor basically seamless, since I felt I was already doing the job as Trainee. All that changed was my legal status, and my charge-out rate, of course!

What interesting challenges did you face whilst on your solicitor training contact?

I always found Court appearances particularly challenging. I would usually attend to assist Counsel, and support the client, but occasionally it was all down to me, for example when obtaining urgent injunctions. It was definitely invaluable experience, but I would always find this particularly nerve-wracking!

What skills have you developed since being with Martin Tolhurst and what are you doing now?

I have certainly developed my client care skills, and I obtained a Fee Earner Gold Award in respect of my client care skills shortly after qualifying. I have qualified into the Private Client department, and I find this area of law particularly interesting and rewarding, especially when assisting clients at often very difficult and sensitive times following the death of a loved one, or in deed planning for when they themselves have passed away. On a daily basis I deal with the administration of estates, preparation of Wills (including estate planning and tax advice) and Lasting Powers of Attorney, Court of Protection applications, Transfers of Equity, post-death variations and Declarations of Trust. I now work part-time following the birth of my son, and I am able to fit this work in and around family life.

I am very grateful to Martin Tolhurst for the fantastic start to my legal career that has been provided to me.