How you got the job / Why Ashfords
I applied for a Training Contract based at the Bristol office whilst studying the GDL in the 2015/2016 academic year. I was invited to an assessment centre in late August and heard I had the job in early September. The primary requirement I had when choosing firms was an expanding national outreach with South-West roots. As someone who grew up spending time in Devon and Cornwall, and watched her parents running a small family business from home, I wanted to work at a firm with a focus on advising SME's from sectors that thrive in the South West. I knew that I would enjoy the excitement that would come with exposure to the thriving Bristol tech start-ups market in particular, and dealing with such a variety of clients within it. I was also aware that I wanted to work for a firm that differentiated itself from the city giants in terms of internal culture, with a genuine respect for the local community and employee wellbeing.
At the assessment day I realised that Ashfords embodied these requirements, as my first impression was of a firm that delicately balances a South-West proximity and down to earth attitude with organic growth. It was, and has proven to be since I started as a trainee, a lively and welcoming firm with an ambitious growth strategy, excellent client service and innovation in legal services on the mind.
What your role involves: Typical activities and key responsibilities
Whilst work of course varies between departments, the usual trainee tasks include researching (including points of law or sector-specific commercial topics), drafting legal documents and liaising with clients and other fee-earners. There are also many chances to get involved with activities outside of work, from CSR initiatives to sports teams and even awards ceremonies. Ashfords excels at supporting new trainees to get involved with these opportunities. This is a testament to the firms' 'recruit to retain' policy; we are genuinely encouraged to start raising our own profiles within the firm from day one, and doing so is a brilliant way to learn how to balance one's workload with internal commitments
Highlights of the work you've done / Your experience as a trainee so far
I have started my training in the Commercial department's Bristol-based team, that specialises in the technology sector. I was lucky enough to be given quality work relating to data protection issues as well as SaaS contract reviews and risk assessments right away. I would say that Ashfords is a firm where trainees are encouraged to challenge themselves from day one, as although virtually all of the contracts I have worked on have been completely new to me, the team has always been patient and made it clear that no question is ever too 'obvious' or 'small' to ask. I definitely feel supported and valued in the team, despite being such a new addition.
Any challenges you've faced / how you have overcome any difficult situations
As a first-seat trainee in a busy team, the biggest challenge so far has been managing my workload and deadlines whilst still trying to get involved with and learn about as many new areas of law as possible. It can definitely be difficult starting in a new area of law and building your confidence whilst busy, but I can't say that I see this as a negative; I have been given some really good quality work so far and the firm encourages employees to seek out opportunities to share knowledge, and work together to achieve results.