The life of a trainee solicitor: Birmingham edition

We spoke to Fiona Timms, Trainee Solicitor at Pinsent Masons, to find out more about what life is like as a trainee in Birmingham.

  • Last updated Sep 13, 2018 5:33:22 PM
  • Becky Kells, Editor, AllAboutLaw

About the trainee

What seat of your training contract are you currently in, and how long have you got left of your training contract?
I am a first year trainee in the Birmingham office, currently sat in the pensions team and hoping to qualify in September 2019.

Which seat have you enjoyed the most?
I spent my first six months in the energy property team, and am now with the pensions team. Both areas of law are very different, so drawing a comparison is very difficult. When I was in the energy property team, I had the opportunity to assist the team on a very exciting project involving the largest ever off-shore wind farm and also had exposure to the newly developing area of battery storage. In pensions, I have returned to the true roots of law and have rekindled an old relationship with black letter law and case summaries - which I surprisingly love!

Do you feel like your training so far has given you a clear idea of the direction in which you would like to take your career?

During your training contract, you have that pivotal moment when you realise you are either a transactional lawyer or you're not, and since being in pensions I have quickly realised I am a non-transactional lawyer. I enjoy advisory work, and I'm excited to further explore this avenue over the next year.

Life at Pinsent Masons

What’s the support system like in your current seat - is it easy to develop a working relationship with partners, associates and fellow trainees?

Whilst every firm claims to be a 'friendly' firm, I can safely confirm that Pinsent Masons really is such a friendly place to work. I have been here a year now and have not met anyone who hasn't been friendly or approachable - and that is true across the entirety of the firm. Everyone is always more than willing to answer your questions and to help you out. Not once have I felt like I haven't been able to ask a question – regardless of how 'silly' it may seem!

In what ways do you get to socialise with other trainees in your intake?
Friday drinks are a usual occurrence, which gives everyone something to look forward to at the end of the week, as well as a chance to unwind. Nearly every lunchtime you can find a fellow trainee sat upstairs in the Hub or catch them for a quick tea break in the kitchen. Our firm also has lots of sports teams, and in doing netball I have met so many more trainees (and other fee earners!). Birmingham also has a junior networking society called the BTSS, which the firm kindly pays for, and that's a great way to meet other trainees not only in the firm but externally too.

How do you manage and prioritise your workload?
I am an avid fan of lists. I write everything down and then work out expected deadlines to plan my days accordingly. A big lesson I have learnt is when to say 'no'. It still feels awkward and I despise disappointing people, but if you are at full capacity you can't always say yes to work. If you do always say yes, it will only be your work that suffers as a result.

Are there any elements to training in Birmingham that you would not have experienced elsewhere? 
As part of our corporate responsibility programme, I have had the opportunity to be a mentor to a sixth-form student from an underprivileged area of Birmingham. My mentee and I had monthly meetings and by the end of the 6 months we built a strong relationship. He will being finishing his AS levels soon and then will begin the process of applying for universities. I managed to convince him to consider applying to my old university to do law, so we may be UOB alumni together one day!

Life in Birmingham

What is your favourite thing to do after work as a trainee in Birmingham?
I have recently got into yoga, and every Monday I love finishing work and heading straight to a class to unwind and relax. The class is run by a fellow trainee at another firm and I often see other trainee solicitors there too!

What is your favourite weekend activity in the city?
Whilst I enjoy relaxing on weekends, I always find myself crazily busy catching up with friends or doing fun things. Recently I spent a weekend at a Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival in Moseley and had the most amazing time in the sun listing to Craig Charles and Sister Sledge. I love trying new things, and Birmingham has so much to offer!

Can you sum up the city in three words?
Underrated, vibrant and diverse.

As a trainee lawyer, do you find that there are a lot of other young professionals working in the city?
Yes. There are more young professionals working and living in Birmingham than any other city in the UK.

Is it easy to get around the city, and find somewhere to live?
Yes. The transport links are fantastic and you can easily find somewhere to live. The Jewellery Quarter is a particularly great place to live, and it's where you'll find most young professionals living.

What are your top five reasons to live and work in Birmingham?
1. Value for money;
2. The ability to walk to work;
3. The pace of life isn't as manic as the capital;
4. That you can stroll around the city and bump into people you know;
5. Everything you could possibly want to do is right on your doorstep.

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