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Journey into law and training contract experience so far

View profile for Matthew Burn
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We are pleased to be able to share blogs over the coming months written by our staff, talking about their job role, working at the firm and career progression at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors.

In this blog by Matthew Burn, Trainee Solicitor at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors, he answers questions about his journey into law as a career and his role as a Trainee Solicitor. He has demonstrated how our Values (#ClientCentred, #ContinuousImprovement, #Citizenship, #CommunityFocus) are embraced by us in our day to day roles and activity.

Thank you to Matt for sharing his journey so far.

What has been your journey into law so far?

My route into Law was through the traditional route. I studied a Law Degree at Undergraduate level. During my time at University, my interest in law continued to grow as I looked for a career in the legal sector.

Unfortunately, after graduating from University, I was unable to initially gain employment in the legal sector.

I was then offered the opportunity to work at Crombie Wilkinson, firstly as a post completion clerk then as a legal assistant to the Head of Department. This job was a fantastic opportunity to not only gain an insight into how a law firm works but I was able to develop an understanding of how conveyancing works practically and how to deal with clients and other parties involved in the conveyancing process.

During my time I worked closely with my colleagues in the team to ensure that we were providing an excellent service to our clients as well as enabling me to develop and improve my own skills and knowledge.

Whilst working full time as a Legal Assistant in the Residential Conveyancing Department time I completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at the University of Law on a weekend obtaining a distinction.

After completing the LPC I was promoted to a paralegal, I continued to work in the Residential Conveyancing Department as well as doing work in our Private Client department. Working in these different areas has gifted me the opportunity into having a real insight into the different areas at Crombie Wilkinson and has really assisted me in my own development.

During my time as a paralegal, I was able to demonstrate that I could manage my own workflow, as I had my own caseload, whilst meeting deadlines and targets. I always try and take a methodical approach to my work which helps me in making sure that I can prioritise tasks that are given to me in order of importance and urgency whilst ensuring that it is to a high standard which I felt prepared me will for my training contract.

Training Contract

I am now halfway through my Training Contract, having done seats in in the Company Commercial and Commercial Property department and then the Residential Conveyancing department. I can’t believe that the last year has flown by so quickly. whilst It is something that I had to wait for but that I have worked so hard for.

I am really enjoying working as a Trainee, the firm provides a very hands-on experience which is invaluable and really helps you to develop as a Trainee.

During my time in the Commercial department, I have been encouraged to use my initiative as a trainee and to work through things independently and to make use the of resources in order to find the answers or come up with a solution. The positive feedback given by those supervising you is very rewarding and makes for a better and more thorough learning experience, examples include how to remove an Agricultural Occupancy Planning Condition.

Throughout my Commercial Property seat, I also had the opportunity to get involved in work such as drafting leases, licences, charges and other contracts. 

My second seat has been in the Residential Conveyancing department, as I have previous experience in this area, I have been given my own case load, this has allowed me to advance the technical skills that I had already acquired prior to my training contract.

My time in the Residential Property has also coincided with the Stamp Duty Holiday which has resulted in extremely high demand in the sector as well as time pressures for many of the matters I am involved with.

I have worked with multiple fee earners in each of the departments during my training contract and this has enabled me to observe good practice in action which I have then emulated in my own professional conduct. 

What do you think has been challenging?

As we are all know, the last 15 months have been very challenging and so many things have changed. COVID-19 has resulted in us having to adjust to a new way of working and modifying our existing practices. This has been a beneficial learning experience as being adaptable is a vital skill for most professions but is especially useful for a career as a solicitor.

It is a testament to the firm that it has been such a smooth experience in switching from working entirely in the office to remote working. In some respects the switch to remote working has resulted in us working more efficiently and brought the teams closer together to overcome the challenges brought on the pandemic. By sticking to and ensuring that we continue to focus upon our values, we have continued to achieve the Crombie Wilkinson Service Pledge throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Training Contracts are intended to push you and prepare for you a career as a solicitor.  Throughout my time at Crombie Wilkinson, my colleagues have always assisted me with my learning and development and continue to provide great support.

What have been the highlights of your Training Contract so far?

I have really enjoyed my training contract to date, particularly because trainees at Crombie Wilkinson are treated as key members of whichever department they are seated. I have been given a lot of responsibility from my supervisors and colleagues. I have enjoyed working with different colleagues throughout the firm and different offices. The support and guidance I have been given throughout my training contract has been faultless as everybody is very approachable and willing to assist. 

During my time in the Commercial team, I assisted with a multi-million-pound farm purchase in which I had an active role in what was a very complicated transaction, I learnt a lot through the matter.

Each and every completion in the Residential Conveyancing team brings about its own satisfaction. I have also received excellent feedback from clients at the end of matters which is incredibly rewarding knowing that clients appreciate the work and assistance given in helping them achieve their desired outcome.

At Crombie Wilkinson you really are trusted as well as being given a lot of responsibility as a trainee, this certainly encourages you to learn and develop quickly. The fact that that your contribution is valued is also fulfilling.

What are your overall aspirations?

I am really looking forward to the rest of my time as a Trainee Solicitor. Over the last year I have gained a lot of experience and have developed my skills, both technical and personal, further in the area of residential conveyancing, so my current goal would be to qualify within this field assisting people in what can be a stressful process to go through. However, I am excited to see what other opportunities may be available to me during my Training Contract. I feel ready to take the next step into qualification as well as being excited for the challenges that await once I have qualified.