In this special day in the life piece, Natalie Payne shares her experience working as an Associate Solicitor in Private Client Law.

 

How did you get into this career?

Natalie works at Mackrell Turner Garrett in London. She studied Law at Kent University and achieved a first class honours.

“I then went to study the Bar Vocational Course at the College of Law.  After this, I decided to get some work experience, and worked at a law firm in London as a paralegal for a year. I then secured a couple of training contracts and during my training contract, undertook the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme test.  After two years as a trainee, I qualified into PC. It was then that I made the decision to specialise in PC during my training contract. PC was my first seat and I loved it.

I always had an interest in law, but to be honest my passion was history. I undertook a mini pupillage during my first year at university, and I absolutely loved it – it was then that I made the decision to become a lawyer. At the time, I wasn’t sure whether to be a barrister or solicitor. I was studying at the point, so you could cross qualify, which is why I undertook the BVC, so I could still become a solicitor.”
 
 

What does a typical day at work look like?

“I usually start work around 8:00am and finish about 7:00pm. My days very greatly but first thing in the morning I’ll always reply back to emails, and then during the day I will attend meetings, whether they are with clients and/or business development events.

I draft a huge volume of documents and letters every day, from Wills to powers of attorney, to trust and estate tax returns.”

 

What skills/qualities does a person need to have for this sort of role?

“I believe a private client solicitor needs to be able to explain complex issues in a clear and non technical manner to people to ensure understanding. You also need to have compassion and patience, especially when dealing with vulnerable people. You need to understand complex issues quickly and find the best way through the web of problems, whilst keeping i mind your client’s well-being and future relationship with family and friends.

A lot of my work is finding solutions to people’s problems, and providing support during very difficult times.”

 

What advice would you give to someone looking to move towards a role like this?

Work experience is key in a career like this. Work as a paralegal and shadow as many solicitors, barristers, judges etc that you can. You can never beat first hand experience, especially if you want to find out if this is the profession for you. It’s not just about the work in today’s legal world. Business development is also taking more and more time and becoming increasingly important, so you should have a good level of knowledge regarding this, and in general commercial awareness.

You will also need a dedication to your career and enjoyment in helping and working with people, alongside a pleasant and can do attitude. Strong academics help, but I would also consider sporting achievements too, because they show that you have the ability to work as a team and succeed.

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