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Meet Trainee Solicitor, Frankie Priestley


We thought we’d take the opportunity to catch up with one of our Trainee Solicitors, Frankie Priestley, who stepped into her new role on 3rd January 2023.

We explore her motivations for becoming a solicitor, her typical day, how she balances her studies, and what she enjoys the most about her new role.

What prompted you to become a Trainee Solicitor?

Well, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to practise law and completed an undergraduate Law Degree at The University of Law, where I initially thought I might pursue a career in criminal law. However, focusing on different practice areas during my studies, I soon found that civil matters and private client work interested me the most.

So when I graduated, I looked for a role that would allow me to gain experience in these areas while studying for my Legal Practice Course (LPC) and Master of Laws (LLM) Degree. That’s when I saw the role of Wills & Probate Secretary advertised at Burnett Barker Solicitors. Following my successful application in June 2021, I joined Wills & Probate Solicitor Henrietta Brett’s team. I quickly knew that I wanted to become a trainee solicitor at Burnett Barker Solicitors, and thankfully, the opportunity arose.

Supporting Henrietta for a year and a half has given me a strong foundation. I could see how well she advises clients and was eager to do the same myself.

How supported do you feel within your role?

Although I am just a few weeks into my new role, trainee life at Burnett Barker Solicitors is great. The pace of work within the Litigation team is swift and varied, but I am well supported by Disputes & Litigation Solicitor Paul Herbert, who makes sure I receive the right balance of professional challenge and guidance.

How committed do you need to be?

The answer is ‘very.’ As well as training to become a solicitor, I am also in the final months of studying for my Legal Practice Course and LLM Degree. This means that I must pace myself and make sure that I allow time for study, reflection, coursework and exam preparation in my spare time.

Although I look forward to completing both courses in June this year, I enjoy academic learning. It’s a way of life for me. I like to keep busy – even if that means studying at the weekends!

What’s involved with training to become a solicitor?

A typical trainee solicitor contract takes around two years, but I may be able to attribute some of my existing experience as qualifying work, and so I hope to complete my training in under two years.

As part of my training, under the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) rules, I must experience working in four different seats (legal practice areas). My first seat is with Paul Herbert in Disputes & Litigation, which is a practice area that appeals to me. Litigation is a complex area of law involving various issues from employment, property, trading, business partnership and shareholder disputes to defamation and slander. No two disputes are ever the same, which I find professionally interesting.

After I complete my seat with Paul, I will move into either family law or residential conveyancing.

A fundamental part of my learning is practice-based. As required by the SRA, I document the activities and cases I am involved in within a training log to evidence my experience and learnings.

How did you find the transition from your previous role?

It’s a big step but one I’ve always wanted to take. I had a very busy role that I loved as a Wills & Probate Secretary but being a trainee solicitor is very different. Before, I was in a role where I was providing administrative support to other solicitors and now I am moving towards being the one who is advising, and so it’s a change of mindset and responsibility, which I was ready for.

What’s the best thing about being a trainee solicitor?

I have a massive interest in the law and enjoy helping people. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Every day I am learning something new and putting my many years of study into practice, and I couldn’t ask for a better law firm to do this at than Burnett Barker Solicitors.

I know that whatever seat I work in, I will be fully supported to become a solicitor and I look forward to everything that the next two years bring!