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Embracing Real Life Legal Challenges and Making a Difference

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Beyond the Books: Embracing Real-Life Legal Challenges and Making a Difference

Meet Maddie Prior, legal trainee, as she nears the end of her legal training programme. Here she shares valuable insights into the reality of what’sMaddie Prior - Legal Trainee - Hughes Paddison involved, the supportive culture at Hughes Paddison, and the transformative experience that awaits law graduates and aspiring legal professionals.

Why did you decide to choose a career in the law?

My interest in law was first sparked at secondary school when I began participating in debates during our Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education classes. Our debates focused on issues relating to individuals and society and I remember feeling strongly about issues of morality and social justice.  I recognised how the law affects many aspects of our day to day lives and how, theoretically, the law is the essence of fairness.  Solicitors play a vital role in upholding these values in day-to-day life and I felt that a career in law would be extremely rewarding and well aligned with my own values.

Did you have any ‘prior’ legal experience?

I graduated from the University of the West of England in 2020 with a first class LLB law degree and went on to achieve a distinction in the Legal Practice Course the following year. I am currently working towards the completion of an LLM Masters in Law.

  • Before joining Hughes Paddison in August 2022, I worked as a Court of Protection Paralegal at Irwin Mitchell LLP in Bristol. Before beginning my professional career, I was involved in various pro bono projects alongside my legal studies to include the following:-
  • I volunteered a day a week as a Casework Supervisor and Advocacy Volunteer at Bristol Law Centre which involved working with the Welfare Benefits team to run appeals to the First-tier Tribunal;
  • In 2019 I became a Court Volunteer at Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre. My role involved providing practical support and advice to litigants in person relating to family law and civil matters;
  • Whilst undertaking the Legal Practice Course I worked as an advisor for the university’s Business Law Clinic. This involved advising local clients and start-up businesses on matters relating to business structures, IP issues, contractual issues and employment disputes.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining the Training Programme?

As a trainee working towards becoming a qualified solicitor, I highly recommend gaining some pro bono or paralegal experience before starting your Training Programme. There are two main reasons for this suggestion.

Firstly, there is no substitute for first-hand experience in a legal environment. While you may have enjoyed studying a particular area of law at university, the reality of practising law can be quite different. It was only after I began working in the Private Client Team that I discovered how much I truly enjoyed it. The hands-on experience of working directly with clients, solving their unique legal issues, and navigating the complexities of their cases is incredibly rewarding.

Interacting with clients face-to-face, understanding their needs, and providing tailored solutions is an integral part of the job. Each day brings new and exciting challenges, keeping the work dynamic and engaging. From drafting wills and powers of attorney to handling probate and estate administration, there is a diverse range of tasks to tackle. Additionally, assisting elderly and vulnerable clients requires sensitivity and empathy, making it a deeply fulfilling aspect of the role.

Secondly, keeping an open mind allows you to explore different areas of law and discover where your interests and strengths lie. While studying, you may have a particular focus, but real-world experience can broaden your perspective and lead you to unexpected opportunities. For example, I initially gravitated towards Family Law as this was an area that I particularly enjoyed on my law degree and in my pro bono work. However, through hands-on experience and immersing myself in the work of different departments, my skill-set widened, and I discovered the types of work I really enjoyed doing.

In summary, pro bono or paralegal experience provides invaluable insights and skills that complement your formal legal education. It allows you to apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations, develop client-facing skills, and explore different areas of law. Ultimately, it’s the perfect training ground to learn from the challenges and responsibilities of being a qualified solicitor, ensuring that you enter the profession with confidence and competence.

Feeling inspired?

Are you a law graduate or aspiring legal professional?

Join our Trainee Recruitment Programme by March 1, 2024, and embark on a journey where you can truly pursue your passion for justice and helping others, and join other aspiring Legal Professionals just like Maddie.

Learn about the options available on our Training Programme

Apply now - Follow our simple application process


The information contained on this page has been prepared for the purpose of this blog/article only. The content should not be regarded at any time as a substitute for taking legal advice.