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25 June 2020

Lockdown Diaries: Qualifying as a Solicitor during lockdown.

In our latest Lawyer lockdown diary, we talk to Katherine Bearman a newly qualified solicitor from our Wills, Trusts and Probate team.

Katherine explains how she found qualifying as a Solicitor during Lockdown and considers the changes and challenges Coronavirus has created for her and her clients.

Lawyer in lockdown

Qualifying as a Solicitor had been an ambition of mine since I first started my Law A-Level over 10 years ago. I am sure many Solicitors and Trainees will agree with me when I say that qualifying as a Solicitor is hard work! The most challenging time being working full time undertaking my training contract whilst also attending “school” at the weekends studying for my LPC. However, I got through it and had lots of plans to celebrate qualifying on 1st April, but then … the Coronavirus hit, and we all went into lockdown.

I still qualified on 1st April 2020 however, all my celebratory plans with family, friends and colleagues had to be cancelled and my first day as a Solicitor was spent in my home office on my own. As a newly qualified (NQ) Solicitor, you are also invited to the Law Society in London for a Graduation ceremony which is a celebration with other NQ solicitors in the country. Disappointingly, this too has been postponed.

I have now been a Solicitor for almost 3 months, and it is definitely not how I ever expected my first few months as a Solicitor to be. During my training, I sat in on and undertook meetings face to face with clients which suddenly became impossible.  I had constant access to printing and post which is now limited whilst working at home. My thoughts went from “I’m now a Solicitor” to “how do I now work as a Solicitor”.

The whole firm has worked hard to adapt to the “new normal” and one of those changes being to take instructions over video call which at times, I have found can be difficult. For example, a recent client of mine had a video call set up by their family however, the client couldn’t quite understand why the Solicitor was on a video call rather than at the office and at first didn’t feel comfortable talking to me in that way. After some time taken explaining why it was necessary to do it this way, the client did then speak with me however, for a client who has always been used to dealing with their legal affairs in person, the “new normal” is not always an easy concept to adapt to!

Despite all the changes due to the Coronavirus, in a lot of ways the “day job” has felt the same. I have worked at Steeles Law for nearly 6 years and I am a part of a team which I have worked with for most of those years. I also had experience with managing my own case load so having my own clients isn’t something new to me. The major change, however, has been the slight shift in client expectations. As a Trainee, it is more acceptable to tell clients that you will have to check something but as a Solicitor, you are expected to know everything within your area! The reality is, I know just as much now as I did on 31 March 2020. The added responsibility can feel scary, especially whilst working on your own from home, but the team are always there at the end of an email.

Whilst we are slowly easing out of lockdown, I still don’t know when we will start working “normally” again and when I will start feeling like a “normal” Solicitor. What I am most looking forward to though, is travelling down to London and celebrating qualifying with all my other quarantine NQs!

Lockdown Diaries: Qualifying as a Solicitor during lockdown by Katherine Bearman

Adapting to the ‘new normal’

We are delighted to announce that we have opened our Diss office to the “new normal” and offering pre-booked face to face appointments. If you would like to make an appointment to speak to a member of our Wills, Trust and Probate team or have another legal query that Steeles Law can assist with, please call 01379 652141 or email info@steeleslaw.co.uk.

Coronavirus resources

Our Private Client team has been sharing practical tips, legal updates and industry insights related to the Wills, Trusts and Probate sector. See the news page links below for more information:

Q&A: Making a Will in a Pandemic

The Coronavirus Act 2020 – Impact on registration of deaths

Private client and Grants of Probate update

Coronavirus: Wills and Probate frequently asked questions

Coronavirus: Practical Tips for Making a Will

To read our previous Lawyer Lockdown Diaries please use the links below:

8 June 2020 – Lockdown Diaries: personal development and a new way of working

12 June 2020 – Lockdown Diaries: Thoughts from the view of a Family Law Solicitor

*The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

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