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Be yourself, always – Life as a Co-op trainee Solicitor
Andrew accepted a training contract with Co-op in September 2017. He shares an insight into his first few months, explains why he chose Co-op and tells us what he’s most looking forward to.
Why did you want to become a Solicitor?
My desire to become a Solicitor started through reading of fictional characters such as Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ I marvelled at the ability of the character to use the facts of the case in such a persuasive manner. This lead to me studying law for one of my A-Levels and I realised the area was truly for me.
During my degree I carried out a placement year and worked alongside many Solicitors. I could see the pride they took in their work along with the gratitude received from the clients for assisting them. I decided to put my desire to the test by representing my university as lead counsel in the Southern Counties Mooting Competition, and I was pleased to learn that we had done very well. This pushed me forward to pursuing a role as a Solicitor, as I felt that my abilities matched my desire.
Why did you want to join Co-op Legal Services?
Whilst researching Co-op Legal Services I enjoyed reading case studies and articles on the website about the work that had been carried out. I could see the passion that the case handlers put into helping their clients. It inspired me to want to become one of the people behind the work.
The firm has 4 main principles for its employees all of which astonished me, especially two of them which were to ‘be yourself, always’ and ‘do what matters most.’ This showed me that the firm wanted the people that work for them to shine through with not only the firm’s qualities but also with their own individual qualities. This is something which I had not seen or experienced at other firms.
The firm has campaigned for various charities such as the British Red Cross and I saw recently that some colleagues had completed the Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for charity. I hoped to be able to do the same by combining my love of long distance running with the causes that Co-op supports.
The Co-op Group has a proud history, built on the values of openness, honesty and social responsibility. The Co-op is owned by millions of members, and membership is open to anyone. This has meant that even when just starting in the Group, once I become a member, I could have an equal say in what could happen with the business. This equality of employees is something which is so unique about working at Co-op Legal Services.
What are you currently doing?
As an external candidate, I am currently working as a Paralegal for 5 months before I start my training contract. During this time I am learning the ways in which Co-op Legal Services operates and how to provide the high standards of service that Co-op expects.
I have been paired with one of the Solicitors in the Family Law department, who is supporting me during this period. This has certainly been beneficial and has placed me in a far better position to learn to the best of my ability during my training contract.
My day to day activities include preparing bundles (Court documents), speaking with clients, taking instructions and providing assistance to the Solicitor as they require. It’s a fast moving, interactive and resourceful role which is really developing my skills and career.
What have you enjoyed so far?
I have been so grateful for the support given to me and the opportunities granted to me since joining Co-op Legal Services. I have asked if I can offer support with writing articles for the firm and made proposals for extra training activities for the trainees. Both of these requests have been received with enthusiasm and I have already begun assisting with writing some articles.
I am based in the Bristol office and the firm kindly allowed me to travel to Manchester to meet the rest of the Family Law department. It really made me feel like I was part of the team and it reinforced my feelings that Co-op Legal Services is an excellent place for me to start to my career.
What are you looking forward to?
Once I have started my training contract I am looking forward to becoming a more integral member of the team and having more direct involvement with clients. In each of the departments that I will be seated (working) in during my training contract, I will be working closely with people who are experts in their field. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to work alongside these specialist Solicitors and learn everything I can from them.
Outside of work, I am planning to take on the Bristol 10K next year. I have now decided to use this opportunity to raise money for a Co-op cause, which is spurring me on even more. I know that I will receive full support from Co-op and be cheered on by my colleagues!