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Burges Salmon LLP

Employee profile

Marie-Elizabeth Bailey

Trainee Solicitor

I knew that I wanted to work outside of London and Burges Salmon represented the perfect balance of high quality, yet varied work alongside a genuinely collaborative culture. Once I stepped foot in the office, the people and culture became all the more important and I knew this was where I wanted to come to work every day. I applied via the vacation scheme in 2016. Following this, I was invited to spend two weeks at the firm with a training contract interview at the end. I began my training contract in September 2018.

Trainee Life at Burges Salmon
My training contract is divided into six seats of four months. I wanted exposure to a wide variety of practices and sectors and this structure allows me to pick and mix different types of work. One year into my training contract I have completed seats in Construction & Engineering, Corporate Finance, Real Estate and I am now sitting in Projects. Each seat has taught me different skills as well as more about the type of work I enjoy.

My role is very varied. Trainees are seen as valued members of the team and support fee earners in the department. Typical tasks in Construction & Engineering included assisting with pitches for work involving new energy technologies, drafting warranties and licences, and attending meetings with counsel in the run up to adjudications. In Corporate Finance, I worked on the restructuring of family businesses as well as acquisitions of both private and listed companies. I would assist with drafting, points of research and coordinating other departments in the firm for the purpose of due diligence. Trainees can also get involved with various initiatives that contribute to firm life. I am on the firm’s social committee which is responsible for sourcing discounts with local businesses and I have enjoyed being involved in charity events such as the firm’s Strictly Legal competition and the Bristol Dragon Boat races.

As a trainee you are rarely in your comfort zone. Each task I approach I am usually doing for the first time and moving departments can sometimes feel like starting a new job, all of which can be daunting. However, everyone at Burges Salmon is extremely supportive. I have never felt out of my depth and one year in I feel that I have learnt a huge amount. Trainee specific inductions are run at the beginning of each seat which provide a useful refresher of relevant law and processes. Firm wide training on broader topics supports this. The collaborative firm culture and genuine open door policy also means that you learn a huge amount from your supervisors and your peers. I have never been afraid to ask questions and everyone is always willing to explain things, no matter how minor. The importance of a positive can-do attitude should also not be underestimated, it is worth throwing yourself into every opportunity.

What I enjoy most about being a trainee is moving around the departments and having the visibility of what is going on in the firm as a whole. Trainees have a fair amount of flexibility on how they work and the type of work you have exposure to. I really enjoy meeting so many people from across the firm. Our Bristol HQ means I regularly see colleagues from previous departments in the coffee queue. Building that internal network is invaluable both in making work an enjoyable place to be, but also in how closely we work to deliver the best service for our clients
The highlight of my training contract so far has been being involved in a large infrastructure project right in the heart of Bristol city centre. Not only is the project itself complex and interesting and an example of all the legal issues a law firm has to walk their client through to achieve their goal, but it is a tangible project that will be evident for years to come and contributes to the regeneration of Bristol which I find really motivating.

Final Thoughts

I feel privileged to work in a firm where employees genuinely want to be there and all feel part of a strong firm identity. Not only do I get excellent training and exposure on my journey to qualification but I can also enjoy my life outside of work. Bristol is an eclectic hub for history, art and most importantly to me – food. I feel lucky that I work for a firm that strives for excellence and deals with household names, without compromising my quality of life. A weekend walk through the leafy parks or around the harbourside always puts into perspective how lucky I am to have all this on my doorstep.