Getting a legal training contract is notoriously difficult. For young graduates the competition is intense – not leaving much room for other new entrants to the profession.
One Malvern woman who is bucking this trend is 34 year-old Shelley Bonney, who has just qualified as a solicitor with Worcestershire lawyers Thomas Guise.
Shelley, who specialises in corporate law, had spent years working as a payments clerk with her local authority. The English graduate had simply fallen into her role, until she saw an opportunity in her local paper to begin training for a career in law.
After completing her professional exams at night school while doing her finance job full time, Shelley faced the difficult task of finding a firm to begin her professional legal career with.
She joined Thomas Guise in 2004 as a paralegal, before beginning her formal training contract in August 2006.
Her training has brought her into contact with different areas across the firm, including litigation and commercial property. However she has found her niche on the corporate team specialising in care home sales and acquisitions.
Shelley said: “The prospect of getting my foot in the door was daunting at first. But by researching the firm thoroughly I was prepared at interview and landed the job. Thomas Guise prides itself upon a friendly but professional approach, and I think that if you can demonstrate that you fit in with the culture of a particular firm you are more likely to succeed.
“I love my new career, and particularly enjoy working on asset sales. In some ways my previous career and degree has helped – you need critical thinking skills to be able to problem solve as a lawyer, and an understanding of finance is important in the kind of work I do.
“I’d advise anyone out there who’s looking to make a career change to just go for it. You need a lot of drive and determination to succeed in law, but it can be a very exciting and dynamic environment to work in.”
Wayne Thomas, managing director of Thomas Guise, said: “Shelley is a valuable addition to our corporate team. We endeavour to recruit people with a range of skills and life experience, as it enables us to offer our clients a well rounded service.
“She has worked really hard to qualify and we’re all thrilled by her achievement.”