Two students who went on work placements at Thursfields Solicitors have both ended up with full-time jobs as paralegals.
Rhiannon Bartlett arrived on work placement in the summer of 2019 and impressed the Midlands law firm’s lawyers so much that she was recruited as a legal assistant with the Residential Property team in Kidderminster.
The same happened with Kiran Kaur Shinjin, who also had her work placement at Thursfields in 2019, and has now started as a legal assistant in the Residential Property team in Solihull.
Michelle O’Hara, managing director at Thursfields, said: “This is a great example of how law firms can provide access to the legal profession and invest in future talent.
“We are thrilled that both Rhiannon and Kiran joined us through this educational route and we’re sure they’ll both go on to become successful in the legal world.”
Rhiannon, aged 23, from Kingswinford, initially gained a Geology/Geography degree at the University of Birmingham before taking a Graduate Diploma in Law in 2018. She is now studying a Legal Practice Course and wants to train to become a solicitor.
She said: “I had other placements where I have just shadowed fee-earners, but the Thursfields’ placement was really engaging, with mixed sessions that got us all involved and helped us make future careers choices.”
Rhiannon explained that she saw an advert and applied for her current position while on the placement, and the recruiters at Thursfields spoke internally with placement leaders to find out how she had performed.
She said: “Going on the placement showed I was passionate about the firm and clearly interested in working for Thursfields.
“Since getting the job, I started off learning the basics, but I quickly progressed to assisting on all elements of conveyancing transactions, particularly assisting with running sale files.
“I have really enjoyed how my knowledge has developed steadily and feel this role has prepared me for my future progression.
“I now want to secure a training contract and become a solicitor, hopefully at Thursfields!”
Kiran Shinjin, also aged 23 and from Wolverhampton, graduated from the University of Wolverhampton with a first-class degree in Law, achieving Distinctions in both her Legal Practice Course and her Masters in Law.
She took part in Thursfields’ work experience programme last July and described it as a “most insightful yet enjoyable” time and “quite different” to any other legal work experience.
She said: “I enjoyed how practical the week was set out, with each day consisting of informative talks on different areas of law.
“One exercise I valued was participating in a mock employment tribunal and having the opportunity to be cross-examined as a witness.
“I also enjoyed presenting a pitch of a business sale and purchase to a hypothetical client, and attending a networking event with directors and other legal professionals.
“The placement also focused on developing skills needed for a legal career, such as team-building, communications, commercial awareness and negotiating.”
Kiran explained that she felt “welcomed as a member of the team” at Thursfields, rather than being made to feel like a volunteer.
After joining the company as a legal assistant at the end of 2020, Ms Shinjin said she wanted to continue to learn, take on additional responsibilities and contribute as much value as possible to her team.
She added: “I would ideally like to progress onto a training contract and hopefully qualify as a solicitor, getting exposure to a range of areas such as family law, corporate law and probate.”
Grace Terry is the business support manager at Thursfields and assists the internal Junior Lawyer Committee, which runs the placements programme.
She explained that applicants had to answer questions about their interests in law and Thursfields in particular.
She said: “Aside from the usual attention to detail, one of the main things we look for is enthusiasm and answers that show the applicant has not only thought about why they want to work in law, but what it is about Thursfields that appeals to them.
“The placement programme showcases the wide variety of skills required for a legal career, and offers tasters of various areas of law to help students consider what they may be more interested in.
“There are also sessions to develop soft skills such as communications, teamwork and negotiations, along with a session on CVs and application tips.”
Grace said that both Rhiannon and Kiran “grew in confidence” and “quickly found their feet” on their placements, showing “enthusiasm and commitment”.
She added: “Both Rhiannon and Kiran’s hard working and positive attitudes really stood out during their placements.
“Since joining Thursfields, Rhiannon has continued to impress, showing herself to be a real team thinker, and she was quickly appointed vice-chair of the Junior Lawyer Committee.
“Obviously, Kiran’s only just joined us, but we have high hope for her and look forward to seeing her quickly progress in her role.”
Thursfields is hoping to plan another placement programme later this year, COVID-19 restrictions pending, and anyone interested should watch the company’s websites for details.