Guest Speaker at Preston College

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Visitor coming through!

Well this has been quite a busy few weeks for us all. Settling back into university, adjusting to an increased work load, taking on extra hours at and then those dreaded applications for vacation schemes and open days! Never mind, I am sure the hard work will pay off in the end. I hope all are well, and my apologise for not keeping in touch recently!

Me and my former law tutor
Selfie time – Me and my former law tutor

On the bright side, I was delighted to be invited to return back to Preston College, where I studied my A-Levels in Law, Accounting and IT. I just can not describe how nostalgic it is to be stood in front of a group of students in a position where I was once just two years ago. I had the opportunity to catch up with four of my previous tutors who had all given me the best guidance in pursuing my career trajectory.

Public speaking is an ‘ad hoc’ skill which a lawyer could expect at any point within their career; whether it involves pitching to clients or reporting to partners. This was the perfect opportunity for me to put my skills to the test and really submerse other students on a topic I felt confident on.
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That aside, finding confidence when you are stood up infront of 15 gazing eyes can be a quite difficult. Naturally, adrenaline is rushing, a thousand thoughts are running through ones head and then the legs suddenly turn to jelly; just what happened to me. Meanwhile, you’ll have to be concious of the time, the tempo and volume of your voice, keeping everyone in the room focused and operating a digital presentation.

I admit, I did feel foolish when 10 minutes after that I had forgotten to explain to the group what BPTC stood for. But thankfully my efforts shined through and my tutor described the presentation as “fantastic”. I spent an awful lot of time on preparation, and here were some tips that helped me the most.

  • Practice until you feel confident in yourself, this is the best opportunity to ‘iron out all the creases’.
  • Notes are distracting, they should contain minimal information like statistics.
  • The adrenaline can only last for so long, push past it and the next thing you know you’ll be a born natural.
  • If you make a mistake or if a word comes out the wrong way, do not be afraid to laugh it off and hastily move on from it.
  • Take a bottle of water, this is brilliant trick if you need to buy yourself some thinking time or you get a croaky throat after the first 10 minutes of talking.
  • Do not lecture at the audience, instead keep them engaged by making eye contact and encouraging questions.
  • Be concious of time, if you need to move it along then just simply say “I’m concious of time”. It is far better than rushing through.

Remember that there is always room for improvement, so if you missed something out or you made yourself look like a bit of an idiot, just make sure you can learn from it. The more experience you gain, the easier it becomes.

Over all, this was a brilliant experience. It was emotive, nostalgic and reaffirmed my career ambitions. I am thankful to my host and I will be back again to speak to a larger group of business students, so watch this space!

A day with Aspiring Solicitors

Earlier this morning I was whisked away to the amazing capital city, London. Today I would be featuring in Aspiring Solicitors new campaign video emphasising on diversity in the legal profession. The organisation plays a strong role in opening up the legal profession to people of all backgrounds. You can find out more about what they do by clicking here

I arrived at London Euston early in the afternoon, where Liam was waiting for me. Although my friend is moving back to University tomorrow, I did not dare to navigate the London Underground alone. We caught the northern line and went exploring around Westminster (my favourite place) for some lunch. McDonalds obviously. 

 

After lunch, Liam left to run his errands while I met Chris White and other aspiring solicitors from different backgrounds, and definitely not from the Preston area. I seemed to be the only one to travel so far!

Chris had appointed a PR company to direct and shoot the new campaign video, who I had the pleasure of working with. Now I don’t think it is fair that I ruin the surprise for you guys, but the video involved running around London in Aspiring Solicitors hoodies and shorts. Ask no more, you will see soon when I will share the published video here on my blog – it will be the corner stone to my webpage for some time. Oh, and I got to keep the hoodie!

 After a brief shoot around an hour or so, Chris wanted to take us to his local or second office. He was a very kind and inspiring person and treated us all to a round of drinks. We had the opportunity to mingle with each other as law students from different corners of the country – fair to say an invaluable experience!
After drinks, me and Liam took the DLR to Canary Warf for dinner at Pizza Express. With students 40% off, we treated ourselves to three courses – and a beer. By the way, the tiramisu is highly recommended. 

A brilliant end to a fantastic day, and it flew by so quickly! As I write this from the Virgin Pendilino crossing the Midlands, good night and thanks for reading!

Some Bad News

I apologise to all who were awaiting my second blog post yesterday on Tuesday evening. Unfortunately I have fallen ill and I am unable to continue the placement with Forster Dean. This is a real shame because I was really enjoying myself and I have had to forgo the cost of all my train tickets that I had booked. Well… sometimes you’ve just got to roll with the punches.

Thank you for keeping a following!

P.S. Congrats to all those on results day today, I hope you all got the grades you were hoping for!

#FDS

Day One

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Day one with Forster Dean Solicitors. Going on four hours sleep, and being up since five (and still going), I am well and truly shattered.

So the commute was a disaster. All-in-all I spent 5 hours commuting, which is almost as long as the day in the office had lasted. I am still outraged by Virgin Trains for announcing changes to a service while closing the doors. I was within an inch of being decapitated, and I’d rather that than be stuck in lovely Scotland!

Well, I feel that it is fair to say that today had brought events which were not what I expected… just as I expected. From walking through the door, you can really appreciate the different environment a high-street firm has to offer as opposed to a big city firm like Shakespeare Martineau. There were only three people in the office today, and there were roughly 5 or 6 desks. I’m still not sure how I feel about this. Although the big city firm environment brought excitement and curiosity, I realise that I should put my first-impressions aside and keep an open mind. Therefore, I will return to this point later in the week.

For the first time I had the pleasure of figuring out what a case-management system is and how it is used. Peter was a delight, and had spent a lot of his time showing me how the system works. To put it shortly, the case management system allows you to create cases and add information about the client, their witnesses, their insurers, the courts, the defendants etcetera. Even more wonderfully, if you’ve entered the data correctly, the information is mail-merged automatically into whatever forms or documents you need to issue. The system also tracks how much time you spend on each task, and automatically charges it (based on hourly rate) to the client’s account.

A lot of the work that Forster Dean carries out is no win / no fee. I managed to wrap my head around this concept by looking at a standard Conditional Fee Agreement (or CFA) which the firm uses. After a thorough read, I conclude that a CFA is a document which basically allocates who pays what if and when, but it should always be read thoroughly and with a great deal of care!

The final activity to mention, and the most enjoyable activity of today, was having the satisfaction of foreshadowing Peter whilst he dealt with clients face to face. The importance of interpersonal skills were reaffirmed – Peter’s clients were made to feel like friends from the moment they walked in to the moment he showed them to the door. Out of the four visits today, one was most unusual; a drop-in from a woman who had trouble with an executor. The woman was clearly in despair, and I fancied I was observing an appointment with a GP or a therapist of that fashion. With the client going into great deal about her stresses, it had occurred to me that Peter has two jobs; solicitor and counsellor. Am I really prepared to be giving people advice on dealing with personal relationships?

#FDS

Vacation Scheme with Forster Dean Solicitors

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Forster Dean Solicitors are a community-based law firm representing individuals in personal injury claims. I’ll be taking a gigantic leap from the commercial based law firms such as Shakespeare Martineau, to see what it’s like dealing with individual clients. I have a great indication that the work will be very different from that which I experienced last month in Birmingham; so I am not exactly sure what to expect. But, as every reasonable law student should, i’m keeping an open mind and like a sponge absorb as much information about the industry as I can.

I’ve costed the week and it lies between £100 to £150, so not cheap! This includes four trains and two buses each day, as well as lunch. This worked out much cheaper than booking a hotel, so sadly I will be doing a 5 hour commute each day. This has been quite frustrating, but you can’t put a price on your future!

As per usual, I plan to keep a regular diary of my time in Leigh. You can follow my updates by searching the tag #FDS here on my blog. Unfortunately the posts will be have to be brief due to client confidentiality. Let’s see how it goes, see you soon!

My Final Day

Today was the last day with the education team at Shakespeare Martineau, and I miss it already as I write this last blog entry on the abysmal Virgin Train service to Glasgow Central. Nether the less, onwards and upwards and back on with everyday life.

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For our last day, we decided to get the team a mountain of doughnuts from Greggs, and yes I did use my 50% discount. They seemed very pleased by this gratuitous offering, and it was cake for breakfast for the lot.

Today was very relaxed, and involved some research on the use of reasonable force (and we’re still not sure what is reasonable). It had seemed that a client had got themselves tangled in the legal twines of the common law that forms reasonable force. What exactly can a security guard do to remove a trespasser on the campus, and how would you identify a person as a trespasser?

Anyway, the day was also supplemented with regurgitating more regulations which constantly cripple and crush the management of higher education institutions. So that was very interesting.

We were diverted from the office to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. This was to celebrate our colleague’s birthday, whom has been a longstanding centre stone to the functioning of the education team. Lunch was on the head of the team, who we (unfortunately) only had the chance to spend the last day with. This was such a generosity and it was lovely to see the team out of the office as themselves.

It was a farewell to the team at five o’clock, and I will miss them so! They have been so kind and friendly to have us work in their team, keeping us on our toes. I just hope that they read this blog so they can appreciate how proud I am to have worked amongst them all.

Reflecting on my professional development, I feel more prepared for the obstacles I face on the path to academia. More importantly, now that I have a vision of where I expect to be in the medium term, I feel more secure about the profession I hope to enter. I am excited for the future and have the ambition I need to smash my way through the second year!

I hope you all found my posts useful, and (if applicable) I hope that you all have a fantastic time on your future vacation schemes, as did I.

With special thanks to Sheehan, Geraldine, Zoë, Karen, Smita, Joanna and Daniel.

Apologies for the delayed publication #SHMA