Bethany Walker is one of our alumnae and Trainee Solicitor at Moore Barlow. We caught up with Bethany to discuss her journey to become a trainee solicitor, what the role involves and get her tips for budding legal professionals.
By Cara Fielder. Published 04 September.
I studied at The University of Law from 2020-2021 and it was an intense period as I was on the LPC. Any of you that have done that will know exactly what it’s like. But I was really supported by great tutors, who were either practising in law at that moment or had previously done so. They were so knowledgeable and are really able to help you apply the theory to the actual practice, which was invaluable. I really enjoyed my time there.
The seats I’ve done are private wealth and commercial disputes, residential property and now corporate. I’m qualifying into private wealth as I really enjoy the people side of law and I really enjoyed the trusts side of it as well. If you’re studying equity and trusts, you’ll know how complex that side of things is and in practice, it’s even more complicated. But that’s the good part about it, there’s always something to learn.
Commercial disputes was my first seat and it was quite a seat to be thrown into because learning civil procedure and how the courts work is actually very different from how you do it on the LPC. No claim really goes through the process in the way you study it. You can get a random claim come to you and you want to settle in the first incidence, so very rarely does it go to court. I didn’t really get any court experience, whilst I did go to mediations and conferences with council (who are barristers).
We all know that getting a training contract can be difficult, but I felt the process at Moore Barlow was quite enjoyable. We started with a written application, and there were some really unique questions in there. For example, if you could be a literary character, who would you be and why? That really indicated what kind of firm that I was going for, that it wasn’t a real corporate dog, they genuinely wanted to know what you were like as a person. From the outset, I thought that was really nice to know. Then we moved on to a psychometric test and then, if you were successful in those two rounds, you passed on to the assessment centre. There you would have an interview as an individual and you do a presentation on a subject of your choice. After that, you have a group interview where you do multiple tasks so the recruiters could see how you work in a group.
A typical day at Moore Barlow can really vary and this depends on what seat you’re in. For example, now that I’m in corporate, something urgent could come in overnight where a client needs something done that day. We could be having to serve a dispute notice on completion accounts after a share purchase agreement (SPA) is completed and it might be due today, so we would rush to help the accountants get that done. You could be working on a deal or an acquisition for example, you could have to jump on a disclosure call or drafting some ancillaries to support your supervising partner. You could be assisting a client with independent legal advice on a loan agreement; it really is just so varied. It may sound cliché, but you never know what you are going to come into. Especially in corporate, where things can all change in a minute, and you just have to adapt to that.
The work you’re exposed to really depends on your seats. Because we are working with high-net-worth individuals, their will, estate and tax planning is so complex but that’s what makes it really enjoyable and it’s really collaborative as a team because you can all get stuck in with any queries. It also means, when it comes to their estate administration, the estates are very large. This can be anywhere between 5-10 million and we have had in excess of that as well. That means, when it comes to liquidating the estate and dealing with all the taxes, it is again very complex, but really enjoyable.
The Employability Service at The University of Law is renowned for being a really excellent service to use. You can use it to help you in gaining a training contract. I know many people in my class did that and found it really useful. I used it in a different way. There’s a section on their website where you can see different practice areas and, for example, it shows you what you need to be a good private client lawyer. It tells you what soft skills you might need as well as qualifications you can take in the future to assist you in that role.
In terms of furthering my career outside of work, business development is really useful for assisting with that. At Moore Barlow, they really encourage it as it’s really important, from a junior level, to be able to establish a new network of individuals. And that’s not just lawyers, that could be knowing accountants for example or business owners. There will come a time when you are making a decision, for example, whether you want to move on to partnership or stay at senior associate level and it’s so important to have those connections.
Ways in which I do that personally is I am part of the Moore Barlow Surrey Young Professional group. We organise quarterly networking events, which get lots of junior professionals in the area together. Again, those are not just legal professionals.
I am also part of the Surrey Junior Lawyers Division Committee as the Universities and Colleges Representative. I bridge the gap between aspiring lawyers and junior lawyers to also give that network of aspiring lawyers as well as it’s good to know people on either side. Knowing the aspiring lawyers and knowing the senior lawyers, whilst you’re in the middle as the junior lawyer, it really gets your name out there. It’s really important to be seen as that’s what will eventually get you the best opportunities later in your career.
To find out what Moore Barlow and others look for in their trainees visit our recruiter’s webpage.