A foot in the door: from paralegal to trainee - Marie Broadhead

Marie Broadhead, who qualified as a solicitor in our dispute resolution department in 2016, recalls her journey from paralegal to trainee at Shulmans.

Marie, what did you do as a paralegal?

I worked in the firm’s corporate and commercial unit. There I undertook some general commercial and employment work, although the vast majority of my workload came from the corporate finance department. I drafted a wide variety of documents ranging from detailed board minutes to Share Purchase Agreements. I was also fully involved in the due diligence process whether acting for a buyer or a seller. I was given a great deal of responsibility and often became the main point of contact for clients and other solicitors in relation to matters. I would also regularly complete corporate transactions and deal with post-completion matters, all with appropriate supervision.

How has your role prepared you for a training contract?

The transition from paralegal to trainee solicitor was seamless as I had been given quality, challenging work, together with a high degree of responsibility and client contact from the very beginning as a paralegal. I was able to use all of the firm’s systems. Moreover I had learnt how to manage my time effectively and deal with matters under pressure. In addition, I already knew people within the firm, which helped me settle in to my first seat as a trainee in the dispute resolution team.

How difficult is it to obtain a training contract?

Obtaining a training contract is very competitive. Shulmans look for people with a strong academic record who share the firm’s core value of providing excellent client care and service. I think the application process is mainly in place to ascertain whether you are right for the firm and whether the firm is right for you. You should make sure that you are applying to the right type and size of law firm for you and that your application form is tailored to that law firm.

Do paralegals have to go through the full external process?

Paralegals do not have to go through the full external application process for a training contract as the firm already has a sound understanding of your work ethic, personality, strengths and weaknesses from observing you work as a paralegal.

Will you get ‘time to count’?

The firm may, at its discretion, recognise legal experience gained outside of a training contract as ‘time to count’ to reduce the duration of your training contract. I was awarded 6 months’ ‘time to count’ (which is the maximum permitted) in respect of my paralegal role, meaning that I qualified in March 2016 rather than September 2016.

Are paralegals at Shulmans guaranteed a training contract?

Not at all. Training contracts are only granted to those paralegals who demonstrate the attributes and skills that the firm looks for in trainees.

How long does it take to become a trainee?

I began working as a paralegal in the corporate finance department in July 2013 and was informed in November 2013 that I had been awarded a training contract to commence in September 2014.