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Starting my legal career with Co-op
Iqra joined Co-op Legal Services as a Wills Advisor in March 2017.
Iqra was offered a place on our Will Writer Training Programme 3 months later and is now writing Wills for her own clients as a Trainee Will Writer under the supervision of her managers. Iqra shares an insight into her journey so far…
Why I chose Co-op
I became disillusioned in my previous employment, where I was working as a legal assistant. My day was very repetitive and not particularly challenging if I’m honest. I really wanted to develop and gain experience from a technical perspective, as well as gain exposure to client contact in some way. Unfortunately I felt like I was on a bit of a treadmill and not getting a chance to progress regardless of how hard I worked. I eventually decided to see what other opportunities existed in the market.
I decided to apply for a Will Advisor role with Co-op Legal Services in early 2017. I didn’t have any previous practical experience in this area of law but I thought I’d see what it had to offer as I had enjoyed the Equity & Trusts module during my degree.
The application consisted of an interview followed by a role play assessment. It was explained that Co-op would provide training from day 1, both in the classroom and on the job. Co-op also has a mentoring system for new recruits. This means that you can work alongside experienced colleagues, so you’re always supported and can ask lots of questions.
Another thing I was looking for was a role that offered career progression because, to put it simply, I really wanted to progress! I was therefore delighted to hear that the department had a transparent career structure, which balances the pace of progression with the talent and performance of colleagues against clearly set objectives. I was also encouraged to learn that Co-op offer ongoing technical legal training and development at every level – even to the most experienced Solicitors.
By the end of the interview I was really excited about this opportunity, as I could see that there was far more on offer than I had initially imagined.
Nearly one year on….
I joined the Wills team in March 2017 and have already come such a long way. I’ve been offered some great opportunities at Co-op and really feel valued here.
In my initial role as a Wills Advisor, I would be in regular contact with prospective clients to discuss their circumstances, explain the different services that we offer and talk through the options that would best suit their needs. I received excellent training and if I couldn’t resolve a query I was offered support and guidance by my colleagues. I also had access to resources which empowered me to find answers for myself.
I enjoyed a steep learning curve and worked in close collaboration with experienced Lawyers from day 1 who encouraged, supported and challenged me in all the right ways. I picked up the role very quickly and worked hard on developing my legal knowledge and client care skills.
In June 2017 I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to join Co-op Legal Services’ Will Writer Training Programme. This comprehensive programme is challenging but incredibly rewarding. I attended regular training sessions with a senior Solicitor while conducting further legal research independently. I had to pass technical assessments across a variety of areas relating to Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney.
As soon as I started the training programme I noticed my confidence growing in my role as a Wills Advisor, particularly with regards to addressing technical client queries.
After I successfully passed the training programme and was able to demonstrate my technical knowledge, I spent a period of time shadowing experienced Lawyers while they conducted appointments and then helped them to draft documents.
I have recently progressed into a Trainee Will Writer role where I have been offered continual support by my colleagues and managers. I now have responsibility for my own clients under the supervision of my managers.
My work is continually assessed and scrutinised to ensure that everything is correct and that the highest standards are met, which allows me to continue finessing my skills. Every day is completely different; my clients are all so unique and I enjoy catering to their individual needs.
I love the customer interaction that comes with this role. I’m able to build great relationships with my clients and I know that they trust me to do what’s best for them.
Looking to the future
I have learnt so much and progressed so quickly at Co-op Legal Services already, so why stop here? I am currently focused on completing my training to become a fully-fledged Will Writer, but that’s not stopping me from looking to the future.
I would love to work towards becoming a Senior Will Writer when I’ve built up enough experience. This requires even greater specialist expertise in broader private client matters. After that, I’d like to undertake further specialist qualifications with The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and become STEP qualified.
I know this will take some time to achieve but I feel excited to finally have an opportunity to learn and develop in the knowledge that my employer wants to help me progress my career.
I know this is not always the case with employers and this is what compelled me to write this article, to let others out there know that opportunities in law do exist – especially at Co-op Legal Services!