In the summer before my training contract started, I was offered the chance to work in our Bristol office for my first seat, I gladly said yes! Having worked in the Exeter office as a paralegal prior to doing my GDL and LPC, I felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to go and learn in a new office and new environment.
Michelmores’ Exeter office is its head office, and every new trainee spends time there on induction training. Because it’s set slightly out of town and has its own café, it feels rather self-sufficient, it takes a little while to know which teams are on which floors and you always see someone new at lunch or on the stairs. There’s always something going on, either at lunch or an after-work event and so there are lots of opportunities to get involved and meet people from across the firm. Equally, if you want to clear your head there’s a country park behind the office.
By contrast, the Bristol office is smaller and the layout of the office is a sort of loop and means you can walk a circuit from one end to the other and pass everyone on your way. This did mean that I spent part of my first week walking in circles! From a new trainee’s perspective though, it means that you can learn people’s names quickly, as well as working out where each team sits.
It’s fantastically central, and I’ve loved going out at lunchtimes or straight from work – it’s a very sociable office so it’s easy to suggest getting something to eat or going for a drink. As a trainee in a smaller office I’ve really enjoyed how close-knit the whole place feels.
I relocated to Bristol the week my training contract started, and though work certainly kept me busy I’ve found that living and working centrally means I don’t lose out even in the busiest weeks.
My first seat has involved mainly Agricultural Litigation, with part of the week spent with Specialist Real Estate assisting with Planning. The Specialist Real Estate/ Real Estate team is small and growing, and having previously been part of the much larger Real Estate department in Exeter, it has been exciting to get a different perspective.
The central location means there have also been several trips to and from the Court, which is 10-15 minutes’ walk from the office. Sometimes you are there to support supervisors and Counsel at a hearing, or sometimes trainees need to go over to the public desks to file papers or ask the Court to issue a claim form.
These have been some of the most exciting parts of the job so far, though everyone assures you that the Agriculture seat will get you out in the fresh air too, and they were right: no matter how urban it feels popping over the road to a café, or running bundles to the Court, nothing beats a site visit I went on to a riverbank in deepest Devon where all parties (with wellies on) boldly waded into midstream to better make their arguments about causation!
Being in the Bristol office for my first seat has been a great experience. I feel fortunate to get to know people across two offices and to learn as much as I can in the new setting. Hopefully I’ll come away wiser about both the work at the Bristol office and the finest coffee and cake spots in the city centre!