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As we prepare to welcome our new group of apprentices, our latest round of trainees are preparing to qualify as solicitors. Current trainee, soon-to-be serious injury solicitor, Daniel Bates shares his journey to qualification.

Having decided on a whim, that I’d like to pursue a legal career at 15, my education has all been targeted towards that goal. The legal media and entertainment I watched, or read, made me determined to be a lawyer – albeit I, like many, initially thought criminal law would be my passion.

My A-level results were not as I’d hoped as my focus was instead on discovering who I was as a person and what I enjoyed. Looking back, I am thankful my year leader told me law wasn’t for me, because it gave me the impetus for what was to come.

I got into the University of Chester, studying LLB Law with Criminology (still banging the criminal law drum), which I loved. I achieved what I wanted to and graduated in 2014 with the legal basics, life skills I now rely on and a new passion for civil law (specifically clinical negligence – turns out I’m not great at predicting what I’ll be interested in).

My first role was as a call handler for a high street law firm. I quickly progressed, moving to assistant file handler, then paralegal in fast-track personal injury shortly after. One of my first realisations while practising was that helping injured claimants could be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling work.

The next step for me was inevitably, the Legal Practice Course, which I completed part-time at the University of Sheffield. With that came the move to a well-known national firm in a similar role.

After 5 years as a paralegal in personal injury and having completed the academic aspects of my route to qualification, I needed a training contract and Minster Law’s sounded perfect. I had the skills and experience for personal injury cases and a commercial awareness thanks to my personal interest in civil justice. Minster allowed me the opportunity to experience other fields and the most unique aspect was the business development seat. This gave me the opportunity to transcend direct-to-client services and to contribute to projects that effected the business as a whole.

I began my training contract in April 2020, in the midst of a national lockdown. My first seat was with a serious injury lawyer, Alex Lucas, who helped me get to grips with the systems and guided me to develop my knowledge and skills on more complex injury work than I’d been used to. I then moved onto business development, where I helped with the implementation of a new work supplier and to maintain relationships with existing suppliers and partners.  , a trade body who work in the name of consumer interests and lobby the government where there is disfunction or proposed changes which are problematic. With ACSO I prepared a report on legal technology, which I presented to significant market regulators and stakeholders. I also worked with their alternative dispute resolution (ADR), rehabilitation, technology, and legal expenses insurance working groups. I found this work incredibly rewarding and it sparked a passion for working to benefit consumer interests at a higher level, in addition to the client-solicitor work.

I also enjoyed the time I spent with the catastrophic injury, employment law and our technical cost teams. Every day came with challenges, and I consequently developed my skills and knowledge – one example of this was my presentation skills. I have previously suffered with a lack of confidence, particularly when I’m not completely comfortable with the subject matter, but as I practised and developed so did my confidence. I now regularly engage with and present to senior colleagues internally and across the market.

Alongside my work within each seat, I have had the opportunity to get involved with other technical projects, charity and community work and external marketing and learning campaigns. For instance, I volunteered as a part of the Covid-19 vaccine roll out, helped to orchestrate a mock trial experience at a primary school with Year 5 children and have attended and arranged for others to attend law fairs, training events and charitable challenges. Minster Law, through their ethos to support their community however they can, empowers its employees to do the same and in a way that is dear to their own heart. I have certainly benefitted from this as a trainee.

On April 1st I will qualify as a Solicitor and move into the Minster Law Serious Team, one of the largest single-site teams of its kind in the UK. I am excited to handle my own complex injury cases and to pursue justice by fair settlement or court judgment for client’s who have suffered unfairly and avoidably at the hands of another. Organising rehabilitation and financial support for clients is particularly rewarding.

Additionally, Minster saw my interest in business development projects, macro consumer matters and access to justice work and have arranged for me to remain working with the business support team and to stay seconded part-time to ACSO post-qualification. This is a dream role for me and one which is unique in Minster’s structure. For Minster to have arranged such a role, having seen the benefit in ensuring my work was broad and fulfilling, is something I am grateful for. I also believe my greater knowledge and understanding on a macro/market level will help me to provide the best service I can to my individual clients, and vice versa. While my role may be unique, the idea that Minster will be so flexible in this way is not. As our technical manager always tells me, Minster want to fulfil the potential of each trainee and what suits one will not necessarily suit another.

In reflecting on my journey to qualification, I realised I wouldn’t change any part of it. I feel my skills and abilities have been particularly accelerated by Minster’s programme which will benefit my future clients, and its flexibility has helped me to find additional interests that matter to me. I am very excited for my future with Minster Law!

With special thanks to Stuart Hanley, Richard Harwood, Joanne Peacock, Alex Lucas, Edel Selby, David Sears, Mathew Itson, Sally Vasey, Jessica Curran, my fellow trainee Magdalena Gawin and the entire ACSO team.

Looking to kickstart your career as a solicitor? There’s still time to apply to our Solicitor Apprenticeship Programme. Applications close on Friday 29 April 2022.