Trainee Solicitor’s Blog By Jenny McPhee

I joined Ascroft Whiteside in January 2014 to practise Family Law, working under Lauren Riley the family solicitor at the firm.

I have always been interested in Family Law due to its relevance in many aspects of daily life such as children, marriage and separation. I was a little apprehensive that working in this field would be upsetting or emotionally testing. However, I was looking forward to learning new skills and developing my legal knowledge as well as with working closely with clients on a daily basis.

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I was keen to see how court hearings were conducted and how financial settlements, especially in Divorce, were reached. I quickly adapted to Lauren’s style of working and sat in on meetings that she conducted with clients’ including initial interviews. Eventually I was given the opportunity to conduct interviews unassisted and found this very rewarding. I attended court and got to see the workings of a financial hearing in relation to Divorce; on this occasion an FDA was converted to an FDR and a settlement was reached.

I had the opportunity to develop my drafting skills as I drafted instructions to counsel on a few matters; including a somewhat complex cohabitation matter. It was also interesting to see how counsel and solicitors worked together in practice.

Quote From BlogI advanced my interviewing skills and learnt how to gather all the relevant information from a client at the initial interview. On many occasions clients would get emotional and it was essential to support them but also give clear advice and information at the outset. I learnt early on that you had to be somewhat firm but remain empathetic.

As a new trainee based at a desk in the “healthy” office I soon adapted to herbal tea and high protein lunches. I was informed that bread had no nutritional value and that “clean eating” was the way forward. I embraced this concept whole heartedly even joining a local Gym in an attempt to achieve a healthier lifestyle (and to keep up with the talk in our room of bootcamps and squats).

This however has seemed to have an adverse effect turning me into a secret eater (a programme Graeme Booth and myself discuss occasionally with amusement). Vikki buying me chips on “fat Fridays” and donating the occasional chocolate bar has been a welcome relief from the “clean eating.” It seems food has been crucial to this stage of my training!

In conclusion being a family lawyer in training has been satisfyingly, challenging and interesting. As a family lawyer you have the opportunity to help an individual and support them through a difficult and emotional time in their lives. Hopefully resulting in them achieving the outcome they desire.

All in all my time in the family department has been ………… TASTY!!!!


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