Natalie works at Mackrell Turner Garrett in London. She studied Law at University of Kent and graduated with first class honours.
How did you get into this career?
“I always had an interest in law but to be honest my passion was history and I was considering becoming a teacher. I began a joint History and Law degree and during my first year at university I undertook a mini pupillage and I absolutely loved it. It was then that I made the decision to become a barrister and converted to a straight honours degree in law.
“Upon graduating I wasn’t sure whether to be a barrister or solicitor. In 2007 you could undertake the Bar Vocational Course and then take a transfer exam to become a solicitor and so I decided to do this to give myself options. I studied at the College of Law and after completing the course I decided to get some work experience, working at a law firm in London as a paralegal for just under a year. During this time I decided to requalify as a solicitor and despite being exempt from undertaking a training contract I thought it was best to do one as I was changing professions. I was fortunate to be offered four training contracts and accepted one in Central London in 2008. During my training contract I undertook the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test in order to become a solicitor and thereafter qualified into private client law. This was my first seat and no other area of law gave me the same job satisfaction and enjoyment.
What does a typical day at work look like?
“I usually start work around 8:00am and finish about 7:00pm. My days vary greatly but the morning is typically spent checking and replying to emails. During the day I will be attending meetings with clients and/or business development events.
“I draft a huge volume of documents every day, from Wills, powers of attorney and trusts to estate tax returns and court of protection applications. As I undertake a lot of end of life care, sometimes my days are turned upside down if I need to urgently attend to a client’s personal needs, which can be discussing terminal care with doctors to deathbed Wills.”
What skills/qualities does a person need to have for this sort of role?
“I believe an effective private client solicitor needs to be able to explain complex issues in a clear and non-technical manner to people to ensure understanding and empowerment. Further you need to understand these complex issues quickly to find the best way through the web of problems (both personal and legal) whilst keeping in mind the well-being of your client and their relationships with family and friends. You must have compassion and patience, especially when assisting vulnerable people and those who have suffered a bereavement and going through the hardest time in their lives. A lot of my work revolves around finding solutions to people’s problems and providing support during very difficult times and so you need to enjoy working with people and being an anchor.”
What advice would you give to someone looking to move towards a role like this?
“Work experience is critical in a career like this (and any career for that matter). Work as a paralegal and shadow as many solicitors, barristers and judges that you can. You can never beat first-hand experience, especially if you want to find out if this is the profession for you. It’s not just about the work in today’s legal world; business development is becoming more and more a part and a requirement of every solicitor at any level. You will also need dedication to your career and enjoyment in helping and working with people, alongside a pleasant and “can do” attitude. Strong academics help, but I personally believe that other extra-curricular achievements are just as important to show that you are a rounded individual who can work in a team and succeed. The hours can be long but when you do what you love and you achieve the desired outcome for your client it is all worth it.”