Having studied law at university, I started life at Bridge McFarland as a legal assistant in the Risk and Compliance department in Lincoln in 2019 before transferring to our Medical Negligence team shortly after to begin fee-earning work. I became a Trainee Solicitor in 2022.
My journey as a trainee has been different to most – I am in the first cohort training under the new ‘Solicitors Qualifying Exam’ regime. The SQE route appealed to me because I had already spent several years working as a fee earner and had built up the necessary ‘qualifying work experience’ needed to qualify (under the traditional Legal Practice Course route, qualifying work experience can only be attained once you have passed your exams). The firm was very open and receptive to my choice.
My Role at Bridge McFarland
As a trainee, I continue to work full time as a fee earner and study remotely in my free time at home. Unlike a traditional training contract, under the SQE, I have opted not to undertake ‘seats’ and have instead dedicated my training to continuing my work within the Medical Negligence team to deepen my understanding of civil litigation. I was confident from the outset that I wanted to qualify into this area of practice, and again, the firm accommodated this choice.
I work closely with partners and senior solicitors to help manage their varied cases, working as a support lawyer to investigate, progress and settle cases concerning medical injuries. This work is challenging, compelling and rewarding. No week at work is the same. As a trainee and even as a legal assistant, I have always been given a high degree of autonomy and responsibility, and whilst I have never been ‘thrown in at the deep end’, I have always been involved and trusted with meaningful and testing tasks, whether that’s preparing witness statements, considering expert evidence, leading case planning conferences with barristers, attending court hearings and settlement meetings nationally and negotiating settlement offers with defendants.
From all of this, I feel as though I have been learning on the job from day one, which has been a huge help as I study for my SQE exams – I regularly put into practice the law and skills which are taught in my lectures and have been able to refer back to my own work experience when preparing to answer exam questions.
Balancing life, work and studies as a trainee is undoubtedly challenging, but it isn’t daunting. Finding the right work-life balance at Bridge McFarland is encouraged and facilitated. For those who can achieve the right balance, you are given a real opportunity to build a career for yourself here.
Whilst I have had little experience working in other firms, from my time here, I can confidently say that this is a more ‘personal’ firm than most. It was obvious from my first few weeks of work that the firm prides itself on employing genuine and decent people who all contribute to a warm and open working environment. The firm is keen to promote ‘homegrown’ talent and is perfect for those not attracted to cut-throat city law firm life. Working in a city has never appealed to me, but still, I can proudly say that I work in a firm that is held in high regard regionally and nationally and has the expertise to compete with some of the best.
Why Bridge McFarland?
For anyone considering a career here, my advice would be to take any early chance available to get to know the firm, whether through work experience, placements, or a vacancy. Whether in school, college, university or a graduate, there is an opportunity for you.