My name’s Megan Aldred and I recently spent a week on work experience at SAS Daniels’ Congleton office. I am a student at Congleton High Sixth Form currently taking law as one of my A levels and am attracted to a legal career and understanding how the law gives people regulations in their lives which link closely with an individual’s moral code.
What did you want to get out of your work experience?
I had always wondered what is was like working in a firm and what type of cases were taken on. During my work experience, I was curious to learn how legal personnel put the information I learn in a class room into real life situations. Concepts like helping people with disputes and how to engage with clients was something I wanted to see. An outsider could easily get the impression that the legal profession is a paper based career with no interaction, just the rotation of opening and closing cases. What I found when doing my work experience was that solicitors in the firm have the welfare of their clients in mind when dealing with cases and that their clients’ are not just a file.
What tasks did you do during your week at SAS Daniels?
At the start of the week I was working on reception, learning the way a law firm is run and what is done daily to keep cases moving. I had the impression that there would be files everywhere. I was expecting the pile of post to be excessive, because that’s how I thought solicitors got the information from their client. When helping on reception it highlighted the amount of work that has to be done for the cases to continuously move forward. I also sat in on a client call with a corporate solicitor, it was interesting to watch negotiations take place over the phone between professionals. I had never done corporate law before but it was explained to me before the call, as well as the reason for the call, so it made following the conversation much easier.
Mid-week I attended a client meeting with an employment solicitor about contracts. It was interesting to listen to the business side of the legal profession and the way a solicitor can advise their client on situations not just disputes.
Towards the end of the week I learnt about the new data protection law GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) and the way it is affecting how law firms store data and what needs to be done if there is a data breach. It’s fascinating to watch how law firms have to adapt and abide by the laws within everyday work. I also attended a webinar on GDPR breaches and what would happen if data was released accidentally and how the firm’s processes would rectify a situation.
As well, I attended a family client meeting which gave me insight on the different areas of law in the firm and how as a solicitor you have to adapt to every individual, their personal needs, not just the general procedure. Throughout the week I was also able to go through files which helped me understand the situations that get dealt with on a daily basis in a law firm.
Did your work experience meet your expectations?
I expected a law firm to be an overwhelming place with people racing around trying to juggle where they needed to be, like at a client meeting or a conference. In reality SAS Daniels is much more relaxed and quiet contrasting to my original thought. The people in the firm are friendly and were always willing to sit and talk to me, if that’s going through a case or me asking them a question on their area of law, they always took the time and made sure I understood the type of files they handle and what a file consists of. I expected the offices to be very closed spaces but at SAS Daniels it’s a nice open space where everyone is based, it’s not people working in separate closed offices. Another concept I didn’t expect was the high presence of technology as a means to store data and to contact clients.
One thing I learnt from being here is that organisational skills are a core basis to how a solicitor works and you have to leave time for any interruptions as well as setbacks in a case. Also, you have to keep files constantly moving forward, meaning cases are in a steady, ongoing rotation.
Another concept I learnt was how the different people help each other to move cases forward and how much they intertwined when handling client situations. When coming into the firm for the first time, I thought that everyone had their own office and own sets of clients that they helped, but at SAS Daniels everyone was in one big room, with desks set out into pods, where people sat next to others in the same field. Allowing people to work as a team within the firm.
Are you still interested in a legal career?
This experience has made it clear that I would like to work inside the legal profession. Still not knowing in what role, but it has solidified the type of career I want to work towards. Now with more experience of the roles within a legal firm, I can confidently say a law firm is the place I would like to end up after education. This week has also put my imagination to rest on what a law firm is really like and I can now reflect on the week from experience not expectations. Everyone was welcoming and willing to help me and increased my experience by allowing me into meetings or letting me to look through their files. The experience has widened my understanding of the legal profession whilst extending my knowledge over the different areas of law that I don’t cover at school. Opening my eyes to the many paths I can go down if I do go into a legal career and it’s interesting to hear how people at SAS Daniels got into their roles.
For more information on work experience placements at SAS Daniels, please visit our work experience page.