I was eager to be selected for the placement because I really wanted to get a proper feel of what it would be like to work in a real legal environment, putting what I had studied into practice, in real world scenarios.
I had an awesome time during my placement at Walker Foster Solicitors. It was invaluable to experience, first hand, how working in a team environment, applying legal principles at different levels, provides results that make a difference to real lives.
Many people had given me the impression that a placement would just mean that I made the coffee and watched other people work: that could not have been further from the truth. I sat in on meetings, independently solved legal problems, answered legal questions as part of a professional legal team, and drafted legal documents for clients.
Placement learning can be very challenging for students, as the work place requires students to be disciplined and vigilant at all times. Students are required to adapt to working etiquettes of the firm as soon as they start their placement work, as the legal team are busy in solving client cases. Students have to show they are able to carry their own weight and are able to learn from the team of workers, as opposed to being an obstacle or a burden on the team. This requires students to grasp all legal issues very quickly whilst putting them into practice.
My time at Walker Foster Solicitors was busy and at times very intense. I had an office of my own, where I was working from. I had to make decisions on my own accord and make sure I was not disturbing other members of the team. This meant I had to judge what legal issues needed further clarity from the seniors and which of them I can solve through my own understanding.
On my first day, I was given three client files to go through to gain an understanding of how wills and probate works in practice. I attended several client meetings dealing with similar issues. By the end of the first day, I was expected to start working on the cases. This meant I had to start making phone calls on behalf of our clients.
On my second day at work, I was left with several things to do, whilst my mentor went out of the office to meet clients. The jobs included: making phone calls in relation to the administration of estates, draft letters and search for the probate value of properties on one of the client’s files to present to the accountant. I also drafted a legal document, dealing with the renunciation of administration, for two clients who where stepping down from the role due to personal issues.
By the start of the third day, I had gained a lot of experience in this field and I continued to work in the same manner until Friday morning. I then spent the rest of my time at the firm, in the conveyancing department, gaining an understanding of how this works in practice. I went through four historic client files to gain an understanding of this area. My time at the firm was full of work and I was gaining knowledge and a clear understanding every step of the way.
It was an invaluable experience for me that will help shape my future. I now have a clearer understanding of what working in a law firm involves and I am sure future employers will look favourably upon it on my CV.