We recently caught up with Samantha Evans, a legal assistant who kindly shared what she does on an average day, her hopes for the future and advice for those looking to join the legal industry.
At college, I chose to study law as one of my subjects as I had a general interest from watching crime dramas on the television, reading John Grisham’s books, and obviously, Elle Woods in Legally Blonde! I thoroughly enjoyed the course and knew it was something I wanted to study at university. In September 2018 I started my Law Degree (LLB) at the University of Worcester.
I had fantastic opportunities to pursue my legal career by participating in work experience placements in JCP Solicitors and Bradley Haynes Law, volunteering at Worcester’s Legal Aid Centre and Citizens Advice Bureau and taking part in mooting. By having these practical experiences, I was able to understand what it is truly like to work in a legal environment and build crucial skills that cannot be taught in a classroom.
In June 2021, I received a First Class Honours in my LLB and I could not be prouder of myself for achieving such a result during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following my nine-month work experience placement at Bradley Haynes Law in Worcester, I was fortunate enough to be offered a full-time role as a Legal Assistant.
This was a great highlight for me to secure a job in a progressing business within my chosen field with a team that is both supportive and approachable. Although I have had many highs throughout my career so far, there have been challenges. When seeking work experience, it can be disheartening to receive rejection letters or to not even get a reply at all. My advice would be to not give up and keep trying!
Demonstrate all your experience to the employers by including any volunteering you have taken part in and do not forget about the skills you have from non-legal experiences. By adapting my CV to include all the skills I have learnt from various places, including a job in retail and volunteering at a hospital, I believe employers were able to see my transferable skills.
8:30am – I finish off getting ready and leave my house. As I support the general office as well as my team, I work from the office every day.
9:00am – Arrive at the office. I check my emails and add any tasks that I have been sent to my to-do list in my notebook, I also flag the email so I can find it easily as my inbox fills up very quickly. I find that I can organise myself far more effectively with a physical list of things to do on paper rather than everything being online. If I feel like I have extra capacity, I email my team to ask if there is anything additional I can help with.
10:35am – I prioritise my tasks for the day and get started. I currently mainly support the Litigation department where I draft court forms, assist in preparing bundles, make courtesy calls, and complete payment request forms with clients. I carry out lots of office admin tasks such as scanning, printing, filing, and preparing letters for both my team and the general office.
12:00pm – I greet the clients who come into the office and scan any documents they have brought in to upload to our systems, check and verify their identification and answer any queries they may have, ensuring they are happy with our service. I have a list of file closures from across the business that I work on when I feel like I have the capacity to do so.
This task can sometimes take me a while if I am not aware of the facts of the particular matter as I have to read the correspondence to understand what exactly has happened and when. This has allowed me to have a better understanding of practice as I look at the files in detail. I have found that particularly within the Commercial department I have learnt the jargon, acronyms and the names of certain documents and what they mean, just by doing this task.
1:00pm – I have my lunch and chat with colleagues and scroll through my phone to catch up on any messages. I also use this time to promote the company on social media, especially LinkedIn, and I enjoy looking at other people’s posts.
2:00pm – I do lots of file openings where I create the matter and draft the Company Care Letter and Terms of Business to send to the client. If the fee earner requests a meeting with the client to be set up, I will arrange it in the same email.
As a legal assistant, I carry out research tasks for my team to save them time and to expand my knowledge. I have recently written an article for Bradley Haynes Law’s website which was then shared on social media. This gave me great experience and followed with networking opportunities on LinkedIn.
3:00pm – I shadow a member of my team during a client meeting and take attendance notes. This has allowed me to get a deeper understanding of both the theoretical and practical sides of working in a legal environment. I have also been able to improve my note-taking skills.
Once back from the meeting, I make the drinks for the office as at this time of day we need a pick-me-up! I almost always have a cup of tea.
4:00pm – I check my emails to ensure I have not missed any throughout the day and tick off my to-list and start preparing my plan for tomorrow. I find it very useful in the morning to have a pre-made list from the day before so I can get to work straight away. I collect any post from the team that needs sending and take it down to the Post Office in Worcester City Centre.
4:30pm – I make a few calls to collect some quotes for the business to enhance its services and pass on the information to the relevant team members. Towards the end of the day, I raise any invoices that can be billed and liaise with the finance team.
5:00pm – I tidy up my desk ready for the following day and ensure any files that I have used are put away safely. I shut down my computer, say goodbye to my colleagues and head home.
In September I start my Masters in General Laws and the Legal Practice Course which I have chosen to study online so I can balance work and a social life. I am looking forward to being one step closer to becoming a solicitor.
I am not certain what area I would eventually like to practice in, but I know it will be something where I work closely with people. I have found it so rewarding to make a difference to a client’s life and genuinely help them with something that they have been struggling with.
Before I started my career, I wish I had known that once you finish your law degree you do not know it all and you are not expected to! While your course will prepare you for many aspects of your future career, you truly start learning in the workplace.
Make sure to take lots of notes that you can later refer to so you can work more confidently and take on tasks that challenge you.
Advice for aspiring legal professionals
I would advise those who wish to have a career in law to do their own research on the different paths and routes you can take to get there. I feel like in education you are told to do things the traditional way and there is little to no encouragement to go down the CILEx route or to seek a legal apprenticeship. I actively researched what would be right for me, including what sort of firm I would like to work in.
Ultimately, the best way you can find what would work for you is by taking part in work experience and volunteering. These opportunities can be hard to find so I think it is important to keep your LinkedIn up to date and communicate with legal professionals within an area you are interested in. Most people will be more than happy to offer you some advice, by maybe looking at your CV, becoming your professional mentor or potentially offering you an opportunity to shadow them.
“Take all the opportunities you can, you are guaranteed to take away something, even if it is that you did not like a particular area- it is all good experience!”
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash