Name: Hannah Manson
Firm: Simpson Millar
Position: Trainee solicitor
Degree: Politics & Peace Studies
University: University of Bradford
Hobbies: Cooking, knitting, reading and live music
Current department: Public Law/Court of Protection
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: I was offered a training contract at Simpson Millar after working here for a number of years and did not formally apply for a training contract or have a formal interview. I initially joined the firm as an admin assistant and after 15 months in that role was internally promoted to a paralegal. I was then a paralegal for 2 years before being offered a training contract.
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
After finishing university and working for two seasons in the Austrian Alps, I went back to live at home (rural south Wales). During this time I started volunteering at my local Citizens Advice Bureau, for something to do, and I found that I really enjoyed interacting with the client’s and helping them solve their problems. It was as a result of this that I decided to do my GDL and train as a solicitor and so started saving money.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
Funding the GDL and LPC and surviving in London on a reduced salary was definitely the biggest challenge. LPC fees are a big hurdle to overcome and securing funding for them was a big challenge. I completed my LPC in July 2014 and I have only finished paying off my loan for the fees this month.
I also completed the LPC while working full-time and this put a lot of pressure on my time. It was difficult finding time to relax and socialise with friends while making sure I kept up with the demands of the LPC and full-time work in a law firm.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
The toughest question I have been asked wasn’t in a training contract interview but in a job interview. It was – you overhear three of your friends talking about you, what are they saying about you?
At the time I could only think ‘why are they talking about me behind my back?’ and I automatically thought they were saying bad things about because they were talking behind my back. At least this was my thinking in the stress of a job interview. For obvious reasons I didn’t want to talk about my annoying or bad habits in an interview so I was a little bit flustered.
After a long pause I think I said that my friends would describe me as passionate and argumentative, in that I stick up for myself when I think I am right and am not afraid to share my opinions.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
The department does a mixture of public law work, community care law, education and Court of Protection work. The Court of Protection work primarily focuses on the health and welfare applications in the Court of Protection, such as challenging a client’s deprivation of liberty or best interests decision making around issues such as care, accommodation, contact with others and capacity to consent to marriage and sexual relations.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
The most enjoyable aspect for me is the interaction with client’s and the relationship that you build with them. Due to the nature of the work, we often have to deal with very personal information and subject areas and so you begin to build up a rapport with the clients. I also enjoy the satisfaction that you can get from doing a job well, be that securing a good outcome for your client or writing a really good letter.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
I didn’t expect to have so many battles with the Legal Aid Agency about funding for cases and the assessments of our costs. On a number of occasions it has felt as if the LAA are as much our opponent as our actual opponent. I have become a reluctant expert on appealing costs assessments by the LAA and am too familiar with their Costs Assessment Guidance.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
The most recent email in my inbox is from a local authority solicitor. It is about agreeing a consent order to vacate a hearing in the Court of Protection and bring proceedings to an end, as my client has been assessed by an independent expert as having capacity to make decisions in relation to his accommodation and care.
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
Like a good journalist I do not reveal my sources.
Describe your training partner in three words.
Astute, measured and brilliant.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
- My birthday is incorrectly recorded on my birth certificate.
- My most prized possession as a 9 year old was a signed photograph of Tony Blair (before he was Prime Minister).
- I still have the photograph.
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
I would be living in the mountains and would probably be running my own chalet, bar or restaurant.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Persevere – there are lots of obstacles to becoming a solicitor but if you work hard and are committed you will get there in the end. My mum always says where there’s a will there’s a way and I think this is true.