Being a Trainee in the Private Client Department.

Lanyon Bowdler offer four to six training contracts each year and welcome candidates from all avenues, whether they have just finished their undergraduate or LPC/SQE examinations, or if they have had a recent career change.

Many of the trainees have different experiences due to them all conducting seats in different areas, however, please continue reading to discover what our trainees Kelly Reynolds and Mia Williams have experienced during their time in the Private Client Department.

Kelly -

I began my training contract in March 2023 and I joined the Private Client Department in Shrewsbury after completing my first seat (March – September 2023), in the Family Department at our Telford office. I also have three years’ experience in family law, and so I was looking forward to exploring another area in order to find out more about where I could ultimately qualify.

Since September, I have been working closely with solicitors Kate Lawson, Aimee Johnson and Edward Rees. I have been given a range of tasks working on client matters, from drafting wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney; to attending initial client meetings and signing appointments. I have also been involved in the administration of estates, learning how the assets are realised and the terms of a will then take effect when distributing assets. Edward Rees has also guided me through trust investments and the steps involved in ensuring investments are released to clients appropriately, or if assets need to be re-invested for an additional term.

Given my background in family law, I had never really explored the intricacies of private client practice, and solely relied on my limited knowledge from my undergraduate degree. I used some of my time at the beginning of my seat to complete online seminars to familiarise myself with the terminology and increase my understanding, to ensure I could digest the tasks I was given. This ultimately gave me a foundation of knowledge to build on when conducting tasks and speaking with clients.

My time in the Private Client Department has differed from being in the Family Department mainly due to private client being non-contentious. However, there have been significant similarities which I have noted and been able to explore, such as within family law it is usually advised to update your will following a divorce. Being in the Private Client Department I have been able to explore this further to assist clients who are in the process of or have recently gone through a divorce, as well as those anticipating getting married in the near future. I have also been able to learn more about the role of guardians when a parent passes away, and the importance of having this clause included in a will to ensure a client’s wishes are considered. Another similarity is how emotionally charged the departments are from seeing clients when they are most vulnerable and in need of help. I have found working in both departments to be incredibly rewarding helping people navigate through very difficult times.

It is surprising how, regardless of what department you are in, any matter could overlap with many other aspects of law and need to be referred to a colleague. For example when clients are part of a partnership or company, advice is needed from our Corporate and Commercial Team in order to complete a will. Equally, in the Family Department, many matters would need specialist advice from the Property Team, Court of Protection or Personal Injury/Clinical Negligence Departments.

Being a trainee at Lanyon Bowdler has enabled me to work with highly experienced solicitors and I have been able to absorb different ways of working, as well as how to approach different matters and manage a file. On 4 March 2024 I moved onto my next seat in the Clinical Negligence Department, and although I am sad to leave the Private Client Team, I am looking forward to the adventure and challenge of a new department.

Mia –

I began my training contract in September 2023. I am based at our Conwy office, and my first seat was in the Private Client Department. I started my training contract straight after I completed my LPC in Liverpool. Previously, I had worked as a receptionist in a law firm in Caernarfon mainly doing admin work, therefore I did not have much experience in private client other than during my LPC and at undergrad.

I was surprised at how involved you are as a trainee in cases, throughout my time in the department I have developed various skills and knowledge which I will be able to take with me throughout my training contract. I have always wanted to work in a department where you help people during hard times in their lives. Private client has enabled me to gain experience in doing that. I have learnt that no case is the same and differing factors effect each case. For example, intestacy or difficult family circumstances.

During my time in private client I have been working with Emma Deering and Sioned Williams who have given me a range of different cases / tasks to work on. These tasks have included drafting wills, preparing estate accounts, drafting IHT forms, attending client meetings and drafting letters to clients. I have learnt that private client is so much more than drafting wills and LPAs (which is the idea I had before starting!) As a private client solicitor you are there to take the stress away when someone has lost a loved one or through helping people prepare for the future, so when they are not here anymore, their families are looked after.

As this is my first seat I cannot compare it to other areas of law, but what I can say is that I have had a great time in the Private Client Team and I will miss it dearly. The support and guidance I have had from the team has been invaluable. I am now looking forward to use the skills I have gained in my new seat in the Family Department and continue to learn from experienced lawyers in each department.

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