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Building a career in law at Lodders

Lizzie Curnock and Olivia Beeton share their experiences.

Trainees Lizzie Curnock and Olivia Beeton joined Lodders having both converted to law through the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (formerly the GDL). The training contracts they subsequently secured have enabled them to gain experience in different departments and work with colleagues across the firm.

Image description: Lodders trainee solicitors Olivia Beeton and Lizzie Curnock. Olivia and Lizzie are sitting on a lock next to a canal, with a narrow boat out of focus behind them.

Whilst they hadn’t always been set on law careers, Lizzie and Olivia have both found their fit in the profession and are soon to qualify as solicitors at Lodders following successful completion of their training. To mark the opening of our trainee solicitor vacancies for 2024, we take a look back at Lizzie and Olivia’s journeys as trainee solicitors.

“Law had been at the back of my mind since undertaking work experience in the field during my GCSEs and A-Levels, but I hadn’t pursued it.” Lizzie explains. “However, I was working in sports regulation in horseracing, rugby, and cricket, which subsequently led to a sports law placement at the British Horseracing Authority. Here, I had the opportunity to assist with governance, disciplinary hearings, and company law. I really enjoyed this work and the barristers I was working with encouraged me to take it further by applying for the law conversion course.”

Olivia also discovered law after pursuing an alternative career pathway. She says: “I graduated from my undergraduate degree in 2014, in which I read Social Anthropology, and I then completed an LLM in International Human Rights Law in 2016. My original dream was to join the civil service, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

“It was a conversation at my brother’s kitchen table that led me here. He is a chartered surveyor and was speaking about the property lawyers he dealt with (who were in fact lawyers at Lodders!) and I thought that a career in law would really play to my strengths. From that point, I was set on following the steps to becoming a lawyer.”

Converting to law

There are several different routes into law, with the law conversion course being a popular pathway into the profession. Lizzie decided to enrol on the GDL (law conversion course) following the completion of her undergraduate degree in English Literature: “I took on the GDL, followed by the LPC/LLM combined. The GDL was challenging and fast paced, but it gave me confidence that I could go further. After graduating, I started at Lodders as a paralegal in the Agriculture team, which progressed to the training contract.”

Olivia also chose to complete the GDL to kick off her law career: “I had been working in hospitality to support my studies and to live, whilst I applied for the Civil Service and other jobs,” she explains. “I completed the GDL as I hadn’t done a law degree. After the GDL came the LPC, which is the more vocational side of training at university. Following lockdown, I contacted Lodders and managed to obtain a month of work experience in the Private Client department. Off the back of that, I secured my training contract at Lodders.” 

Training benefits

Lodders’ training contracts involve a mix of qualifying work experience across different seats. Alongside this, trainees study for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). The SQE is the centralised assessment for anyone who wants to qualify as a solicitor in England, and the qualification is fully funded by Lodders.

Speaking about her experience of the training programme, Lizzie says: “The training contract has so many benefits. I have loved gaining experience in the different departments and working with colleagues across the firm. This route has given me a rounded experience and time to know what I am really interested in.”

For Olivia, commencing her training programme a little while after graduating has played to her advantage: “I have a little bit more life experience than some people starting their careers in law,” she says. “There are also a lot of transferrable skills from having worked in an entirely different sector, and if nothing else, I am great at recommending gins! I was awfully shy when I was younger and fresh out of university, so having a job in a people-facing role was important to my development. It taught me what good customer service really is, which I hope to take forward as good client service. Having the extra life experience has also cropped up when speaking to clients; we had a client come in who did not know what to do with her late husband’s academic books. I was aware that when my father died, my mother had donated his books to his college library at Oxford University and I suggested the same to the client. It was a special moment for me to pass on my father’s legacy and the client thought it was a lovely idea to honour her late husband.”

Why Lodders?

Lodders’ broad, specialist expertise spans agricultural law and landed estates, private client work, dispute resolution, corporate and commercial law, commercial property and real estate, construction, employment law, charity law, residential conveyancing, and family law. As such, our trainees have a unique opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the areas of law that most interest them.

“My main interests for qualification were private client and commercial property, and Lodders offered both of those departments.” Olivia explains. “I was also attracted to the firm due to its strong reputation, despite not being a city firm. By joining Lodders, I could work outside of the city (and maintain a good work-life balance) without compromising the quality of my training.”

Of her interest in Lodders, Lizzie comments: “I grew up in a farming family and had been aware of Lodders from the Moreton Show. I applied for my paralegal job at Lodders specifically to work in the Agriculture team. I am therefore thrilled to be qualifying into the Agriculture department in September, where I will continue to support the team.”

Olivia adds: “I am very excited that I am qualifying in September this year into the Business Property team at Lodders with a focus on renewable energy for rural landowners. My ambition is to just do the best I can to support the team, the firm, and our clients, and to grow our renewables offering.”

Career advice

With qualification within touching distance, Lizzie offers her advice to those just starting to carve out a career in law: “My advice would be to get as much work experience as possible and look for paralegal roles. My year as a paralegal was a great foundation for my training and the team ensured that my role was adapted, and I continued to grow.”

Olivia comments: “Go for it. Don’t give up. The average age of qualification is 29, and you are never too old. Make the most of your differences and your life experience as they will be an asset to your legal career.”

Trainee solicitor vacancies at Lodders

We currently have opportunities for four trainee solicitors working across the Lodders offices and client teams.

Starting on Monday 2 September, the training contract is a mix of qualifying work experience across four different seats, one of which will be in litigation. Alongside this, you will study for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) parts 1 and 2 through the University of Law.

We are accepting applications until 11:59pm on 12 July 2024. For more information, and details on how to apply, click here. 

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For help with a legal problem or more information on any of our services at Lodders, please get in touch with our friendly team. You can contact us via the number or email address below, or fill in the form and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.

Emily Brampton, Lodders Solicitors

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