Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Georgia Chandler. I am a trainee solicitor at Churchers Solicitors, where I began my training contract in November 2017.
Tell us a bit about your training contract so far.
I am currently in the first seat of my training contract in the Conveyancing department at the firm´s Portsmouth office, and have been working under the supervision of Partner and Head of Conveyancing, Elizabeth Moger.
So far, I have been assisting Elizabeth on freehold and leasehold sales and purchases, re-mortgages and transfers of equity. I have been involved in all stages of a conveyancing transaction, from issuing draft contract papers on a sale to drafting a report on title to the client on a purchase. I have also sent quotes to clients, opened files and seen transactions right through to completion.
I have also had the opportunity to attended various networking events, including a chocolate and prosecco evening and a speed networking event.
What seat are you doing next?
My next seat is in the Matrimonial department at the firms Portsmouth office. I will be working with Associate Leesa Longden-Thurgood, one of the firm’s Resolution accredited specialist family lawyers.
What kind of formal training do you have exposure to as part of your training contract?
Churchers encourages their trainees to develop and build their knowledge and skills, both to perform better as a representative of the firm and for our future careers. In addition to the SRA-mandatory courses, I have attended anti money laundering training, case management training and a claims and risk review presentation. I have also recently attended a conveyancing update organised by Portsmouth lawyers.
Additionally, I receive daily feedback from my supervisor and have regular appraisals during which I am encouraged to set goals and review my progress.
Why did you decide to apply for a training contract with Churchers Solicitors?
I applied after doing work experience at the firm's Fareham office in the Wills and Probate team. I felt trusted and valued from the outset and was able to sit in on many meetings with clients, both in the office and in clients’ homes, which was very different from other firms I had work experience at. The Churchers team always gave me the opportunity to ask them about the kind of work that they do, what they like about their roles and their experiences as part of the firm. This gave me an amazing insight to what being a trainee would feel like and if the firm would suit me. When applying for training contracts I knew that I wanted to work for a firm where I can train and then stay on and progress. Knowing that many of Churchers’ former trainees have stayed on and really thrive within the firm was one of the reasons why I wanted to apply. For example, one of the team members I was working with during my work experience, Lauren McIntosh, joined the firm as a trainee in 2010 and has recently been promoted to Partner.
When you applied, what do you think set you apart from other candidates?
Churchers’ main focus is on client care and providing a quality service to clients. I was able to demonstrate this through work experience at the Fareham office, and being able to discuss previous work experience during my interview really gave me an advantage. I was also able to discuss my experiences of social media and marketing which is an important part of a trainee’s role at the firm. We are encouraged to come up with new ideas and get involved as much as possible.
How much responsibility and client contact do you have as a trainee?
When I started my seat in the Conveyancing department, the head of department was off on long term sick for the first 6 weeks. As a result I had a lot of responsibility from the outset. I already had some experience in Conveyancing when I started my training contract so I was glad to be a valued member of the team as oppose to a hindrance. I am now 3 months into my training contract and I have just opened my first file in my name.
The firm trusts you to be a part of the team, not just an observer, and gives you real hands-on experience. I am in direct contact with clients on a daily basis via telephone, email and by post, and have attended client meetings in the office and visited clients in their homes.
What is your experience of the office culture at Churchers Solicitors?
Everyone is very friendly and welcoming, which made me feel part of the Churchers team from the outset. You are respected and treated like a valued part of the team. You are also not expected to know everything straight away, which is important to know for a trainee. If you ever do run into any issues there is a great support system in place and members of the team that are always happy to help and lend an ear/meet for a coffee etc.
What has been the highlight of your training contract so far?
The highlight so far has been completing on a sale of which the transaction began when I first started. It was very rewarding seeing the transaction through to completion. The transaction had taken longer than expected and when it finally completed it was a relief. The client was very happy and even brought in a thank you card.
What has been the most challenging aspect so far?
During my training contract I have been given work from various fee earners in the department, who each have their own unique style of working. The most challenging aspect for me has been adapting my style to suit the particular fee earner I am currently doing work for. It has however been very interesting as you get to experience very different working styles and allows you to discover which styles suit you.
What qualities do you think a Churchers Solicitors trainee needs?
Getting a 2:1 or a 1st on your degree obviously helps but it is also important to have interests outside of work. You must be good with people and able to work well with others. You spend a huge amount of your time at work so you need to be able to get on well with others at the firm and enjoy your time here. You must also demonstrate a willingness to learn. There is no doubt that you learn lots on the LPC but you also learn a huge amount from colleagues.
What advice would you give to someone looking to apply for a training contract with Churchers Solicitors?
A few of the trainees and former trainees here at Churchers got their training contracts through doing work experience at the firm. It is a great way for you to demonstrate your skills and show that you could be a valued member of the team. It is also important to do your research on the firm in order to decide if the firm is suited to you. Also, do not be put off of applying because you are still deciding which area of law you would like to qualify into; you are not expected to know straight away.