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Vicky Aked - Trainee Solicitor (August 2017 - August 2019)

Trainee Solicitor Victoria Aked started her training contract with Martin Tolhurst Solicitors in August 2017. Victoria is currently in her second seat with our Matrimonial team.

Trainee Solicitor Victoria Aked discusses why she chose to train with Martin Tolhurst Solicitors.

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

I read English and European Laws at the University of Essex. I studied on the Erasmus Programme and spent the third year of my degree studying at the University of Thessaloniki in Greece.  After graduating with an LLB, I completed the Bar Vocational Course (BVC now BPTC) at the Inns of Court School of Law and later went on to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at the University of Law in Bloomsbury, London.

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

Throughout studying for my Law degree and completing the BVC, I undertook several mini pupillages within Barristers’ Chambers.  This gave me my first insight into the practical world of law rather than the academic aspect of it I had focussed on during my studies.  I attended Criminal hearings both in the Magistrates’ and Crown Court. As a Student Member of the Inner Temple, I was assigned a Mentor who practised as a Family Law barrister. I was struck by how different this experience was to that of the Criminal barrister. I was also fortunate enough to shadow a Judge at the Southwark Crown Court. If I was able to take nothing else from this experience, I realised that Judges have a knack (generally) of putting Advocates, Witnesses etc. at ease and make it their aim to ensure that those that are not familiar with the Court process are comfortable and aware of what is happening. It turns out they really are people like you or I!

During the course of my Training Contract I have used the skills acquired during these experiences to nurture relationships with both Clients and Counsel. I am, for example, able to explain the Court process to Clients and also pre-empt what information a barrister may want or need to put forward the best possible case for the Client.

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

I decided that I wished to focus my career on the Civil areas of law as opposed to the Criminal law. Having initially started my career at Martin Tolhurst in the Enquiries Department I was fortunate enough to be offered a Training Contract with the firm having been awarded a Distinction in my Legal Practice Course. I completed the LPC on a part-time basis and I found that Martin Tolhurst was very accommodating when I required time to study and take exams.

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

I initially worked within the Enquiries Department. After being with the firm for several years, I was offered a Training Contract which commenced two months after I had completed the LPC. Prior to working for Martin Tolhurst, I worked for a regional Estate Agent as a Sales Progressor.

How long have you been a trainee and what seats have you held?

I have been a Trainee Solicitor for 16 months. In this time I have undertaken seats in both the Commercial Department and the Family Department.  I look forward to beginning my third and final seat in the Wills and Probate Department having enjoyed this area of law whilst studying on the LPC. I am looking forward to delving into the world of Estate Planning as I feel this is a subject that will affect many in the future as people are both living longer and are now more conscious of managing their assets in readiness for later life.

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

A typical day in the Family Department begins by responding to emails from Clients, other Solicitors and Counsel. If we are preparing for a hearing, I will spend time writing Witness Statements or preparing Position Statements for the benefit of the Court. Shortly after we have been instructed by a client, I am often involved with preparing Court Documents in the form of, amongst others, Divorce Petitions or applications under the Children Act 1989.

My favourite part of this seat has been the initial meetings with potential clients. After the client has directed us as to what is troubling them - be it a relationship breakdown or not being able to see their children - I enjoy the stage of the consultation where the client is advised what can be done to help them. It is often the case that the client leaves our office with a far more positive outlook on the matter than when they arrived.   Naturally, I also enjoy the final day of Court when an Order is given which goes in the client’s favour. It is at this stage that all of the hours of preparation are shown to have paid off.

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

Aside from having a Training Supervisor with whom you work alongside on a daily basis, Trainee Solicitors are required to complete 24 hours of the Professional Skills Course. This is compulsory training that is the final stage you undertake before qualifying. I have attained my hours by attended seminars and watching webinars on a variety of topics that have complemented the training seat I was undertaking at the time.

My Training Supervisor is able to explain what courses of action are required to overcome the issues faced by our Clients.  Whist there is a certain amount of ‘self-study’ involved, my Supervisor is always available to clarify matters if I do not understand what is required/ the reasoning behind the process.

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

The best part about being a Trainee Solicitor is knowing that you are nearing the ‘finish line’ in terms of achieving your desired career! There are many years of study and ‘working your way up the ladder’ that are involved and the Training Contract is the culmination of all of this work.

The best part about being a Trainee Solicitor at Martin Tolhurst is that there are a number of Trainee Solicitors at any one time.  This therefore means that there is an immediate support network and always someone to attend training sessions with or advise you on what particular training seats entail etc.