Michelle Bakker - 1st Year Trainee, Bristol

Michelle Bakker

I am currently on the second seat of my training contract in the Bristol office.

As a trainee in Bristol, I work in Beale & Co’s various departments – the “ seats” – simultaneously. The Bristol office focuses on three key practices: professional indemnity, construction and (mostly defendant) professional negligence. Working in these primarily contentious departments on a daily basis means that life as a trainee in our Bristol office is fast-paced, varied and interesting. In any single day, I can advise a defendant solicitor whether a claim brought against them is covered by their professional indemnity insurance policy, instruct an Expert in a construction dispute or draft pre-action correspondence in an accountant’s negligence claim. Every day is filled with a variety of interesting work, allowing me to experience different areas of law on a daily basis – and seeing which ones I like!

The office is centrally located in Bristol’s beautiful Georgian Queen Square. I studied both my undergraduate law degree and the Legal Practice Course in Bristol, having moved here in 2010 from Portugal, and have really cherished the opportunity to complete my training contract in Bristol without having to sacrifice quality of training.

After a short bike ride into the office every morning, I am instantly busy directly advising clients on the merits of their defence or strategy generally, liaising with counsel and experts, preparing key documents for filing at court and drafting articles for our website. I conduct my own matters and have a high level of responsibility. I am treated as a trusted and indispensable member of the Bristol team. Because everyone in our office is genuinely friendly, I am never anxious to approach my colleagues or the Partners in our office with any questions that I might naturally have. Despite the high level of responsibility given to trainees, this does not affect my work/life balance: I am usually out of the office by 6pm!

The best way for me to describe what life is like as a trainee in the Bristol office is by giving you a brief snapshot of my day, today.

I cycled into work at 8:30am and got ready in our individual shower rooms at the office. I was sat at my desk at 9am, with tea and some breakfast. I had an email from my supervising partner in respect of a draft preliminary report to a client regarding a solicitors’ breach of trust claim and went to see him. We discussed some revisions and I spent the next hour or so assessing the losses claimed. In the meantime, an associate asked me whether I would be available to attend two upcoming mediations with her and the client, which I gladly agreed to. We had our monthly office-wide meeting at 11am, where we discussed capacity, marketing opportunities, upcoming events and news from our other offices. For lunch, I convinced my colleagues to try a vegan burger in a new restaurant nearby and which they thankfully agreed to! Upon returning to my desk, I advised a solicitor client regarding an application to strike out the Claimant’s claim against them. This evening, the majority of our office are attending a Professional Indemnity Seminar delivered by a set of barrister chambers that we regularly instruct. The Seminar will discuss the future for loss of a chance claims following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Perry v Raleys. Thankfully, I wrote an article for our website when the judgment came out, so it should be familiar to me!

Tomorrow and Friday, I will cycle to my PSC classes, before enjoying the weekend in a sunny Bristol.