Flavia Croce Michon Pecori
In August it will be three years since I joined RPC as a paralegal. Back in 2016, when I finished my LPC, RPC Bristol partnered with UWE and the Law Society to offer a one-week vacation scheme with their paralegal team. At the end of it, I was offered a job as a claims handler. As part of that role, I managed insurance claims on behalf of insurer- clients from notification to resolution. After about a year, I was promoted to senior claims handler, meaning I was now responsible for a small team.
The role really prepared me for my training contract. I learnt how to manage a caseload, how to deal with unpredictable and stressful situations, how to work in a team and how to meet and listen to clients' needs.
RPC is a place where you are really valued as an individual. There is a very good sense of teamwork. Everyone is ready to help and the open-plan office allows people to ask questions and learn from colleagues. Discussion is always encouraged and welcomed.
I have always wanted to be a lawyer and when the firm opened their training contract applications in Bristol, it was only natural for me to apply. The application form is a fairly standard one and focuses on getting to know the candidate as an individual through competency-based questions. I then attended an assessment day which involved an interview, a written exercise and a presentation.
As a trainee solicitor you are there to support the qualified fee-earners learning as much as possible on the job. In order to do so, you are taken along to hearings and meetings. You are also asked to prepare key documents and liaise with clients and firms on the other side.
The RPC training contract is structured as four six month seats. In Bristol all four seats rotate around the firm's insurance practice, which means that they generally involve a high level of contentious work.
My first seat was in Professional and Financial Risks. The team defends claims against solicitors and financial advisors. As this mirrored the work that I previously did as a claims handler, I was given a couple of small value claims to manage. In my first month as a trainee I attended a 4-day trial which was extremely exciting. Towards the end of my first seat I also settled one of the cases that I had started to work on when I joined the team.
I am currently sitting in the General Liability and Medical Negligence team. This has been challenging and stimulating as it is an area of the law that I do not know very well. However, I have been involved in some very interesting matters. I have been given a lot of client exposure and I have been involved in the day-to-day running of some litigated claims.
Generally, a good proportion of the training you receive is very much "on the job". Your supervisor, and any other fee-earner you may be working with, will take you along to meetings or hearings and keep you involved in the key stages of each case so that you can observe how a legal matter evolves.
There is however also a lot of formal training. In order to qualify you are required to attend and pass the Professional Skills Course. The firm also organises training and conferences for their staff to attend which are counted as part of the formal training you receive as a trainee solicitor.
I really enjoy working at RPC and have learnt invaluable lessons both on a professional and personal level. I cannot wait to see what happens in my second year as a trainee!