Trainee Solicitor01244 405560
About Bryony Chambers-Towers
Bryony joined Aaron and Partners in May 2021, working to support the Planning, Environment, Energy and Regulatory team as a paralegal, and is currently a Trainee Solicitor.
She studied Law LLB, followed by a master’s degree in Environmental Law at the University of Nottingham. Bryony completed the Legal Practice Course with LLM in Legal Practice in 2020.
There’s more than one way into law – and the sooner we embrace that fact, the better
Bryony Chambers-Towers, trainee solicitor at Aaron & Partners, on her legal journey so far – and why it’s crucial for the sector’s diversity that it attracts more aspiring lawyers from unconventional backgrounds and pathways
There’s no denying it, the legal profession has a way to go before it fully embraces diversity.
Our sector isn’t alone in having a reputation of being white, middle class and male-dominated, but that doesn’t strip us of our responsibility to try and change it.
Having acknowledged it, the sector in general is spending large amounts of time and money on removing the stigma, but one relatively simple approach would be to acknowledge the fact that there is more than one way into law.
Most big firms recruit two or three years in advance, meaning the tried and tested route is to apply for a training contract in your second year, to become a trainee solicitor straight after your degree. It’s always been that way.
But does it have to be like this? Is it a convention that can be challenged? Although I did a law degree and have been set on becoming a solicitor pretty much from my first year in school, I decided early on, that journey just wasn’t for me.
To put it bluntly, I didn’t get great career advice, and the internet was not nearly as useful back then as it is now – so you couldn’t just type in ‘how to become a trainee solicitor’.
My teachers also didn’t have a clue about how to go about it, and any websites I could find told me to ask my careers advisor – who also didn’t have much of an idea. So, after finishing my undergraduate degree at Nottingham University, I opted for a different route.
I’d had an interest in environmental law for quite a while, and knew it was an up-and-coming sector. I enjoyed science and geography and had various work experience placements under my belt. I wanted to do my master’s and I was dead set on working in planning and environment and a lot of law firms don’t really have an offering for that.
To support myself while I studied my master’s, I took on side-jobs for much of my training – working in cafes and restaurants during evenings and weekends, which, far from being a hindrance, has helped and by giving me vital skills that I will go on to use in my legal career.
After graduating, I took a job with the British Geological Survey in the legal and contracts team for four years. During that time, I did my legal practice course part-time and finished in September 2021.
Then this year, in my late 20s, I finally secured my job as a paralegal in the planning, environmental and regulatory team at Aaron & Partners – moving to Chester from Nottingham. Three months in, I was told I would be starting my training contract in December.
I’m exactly where I want to be and am grateful to all who have helped me. It’s not been easy, and persistence has been just as important as any of the academic and legal skills I picked up along the way.
But I wouldn’t have changed it for the world – and think the profession would benefit greatly from more people who have taken the road less travelled. Diversity in the legal profession is so important. The different viewpoints and life experiences people bring to the profession can only benefit us.
I would never want people to think just because they didn’t start on the anticipated route into law or changed their mind halfway through their first non-law degree, that that was it – and it is now too late to get into the profession.
Doing something different beforehand can actually bring a lot of value to our sector. Legal work experience is obviously vital, but don’t rule out the benefits of doing customer service jobs in shops and restaurants. The experience you get from working with customers is absolutely transferable to client work.
That’s not to say taking a different route doesn’t come with its own challenges and difficulties – but who said getting into law was ever going to be easy?
This opportunity and realisation would not have come without Aaron & Partners – lots of people at the firm have been a wonderful help to me launching my career – it’s an organisation always on the lookout for new talent. There are so many different people from different walks of life, of different ages working here, it really is truly inspiring.
We have a fantastic cohort of paralegals and trainees and from speaking to them, everyone is so pleased with the support they get – actually being able to get involved with matters and feeling like they’re contributing. It’s certainly not just photocopying and filing, and it’s a brilliant learning curve.
I’m so grateful to them and crucially, I genuinely enjoy my job. I’m now a trainee, and currently helping with preparation for a matter going to the Supreme Court. That’s unbelievable.
I don’t get the fear on Sundays – I look forward to coming into work and it’s varied from the off – no day is the same and everyone has been so supportive in a welcoming, friendly culture.
Plenty – including those from a more unconventional legal background – started here as paralegals and have gone on to become associates and partners, which gives junior members of staff like me something to look up to. I look forward to progressing my career here and hopefully one day going on to become a partner. Aaron & Partners is the type of place that really supports people in moving up.
For young people looking to go into law, do your research before you go to university. Make sure you know that although the work is going to be difficult and you will need to keep tabs on your career path as well as the work for university, it will all pay off in the end if you are persistent and determined.
There are many ways into law – and the more firms that remember this fact just like Aaron & Partners have done, the better for all of us. After all, what possible downsides could there be in our profession welcoming more fresh perspectives, widened expertise and alternative thinking?