So, what makes a good trainee solicitor?

3 August, 2016

In this month’s Partner Chat, the Cripps Pemberton Greenish in a Day team caught up with Jessica Jamieson, partner in the Advisory team.

Jessica advises on will and trust drafting, powers of attorney, inheritance and capital gains tax and obtaining grants for non-UK estates.


  1. Describe your role and area of expertise

I work in the Advisory Group in our Private Client Division. My work is very varied but I tend to deal with high net worth individuals who want to maximise the legacy to their children in a way that suits them. This involves reviewing their family circumstances and assets and advising on their inheritance tax position. It will often involve the preparation of a new Will, trusts and letters of wishes, as well as powers of attorney. I also specialise in the administration of estates for those who died domiciled outside the UK.


  1. What do you find most interesting about your work?

I must confess to being a bit of a geek – I love getting my head round complex tax legislation, understanding how this is going to affect our clients and then explaining this to others. I also really enjoy my role as a trainee supervisor and like to think of myself inspiring others. No one has yet stood on the desk and said “Oh captain, my captain” – but there’s still time….


  1. Favourite film/book/play

I love to read and am a member of two book clubs. I have a number of books on my favourites list which all seem to involve time travel – The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Ben Elton’s Time and Time Again and Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life. I also love anything by Alexander McCall-Smith. My all-time favourite is probably Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.


  1. What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

I used to love Kavanagh QC! A family friend, Alistair Caisley (from Keogh Caisley) sat down with me and explained how the legal profession works. I soon realized that life as a barrister was not for me, but I was still interested in law, which I see as pulling together strengths in a number of different areas (my A levels were Maths, French, English and Chemistry).


  1. What do you remember about your first day at Cripps Pemberton Greenish?

I joined Cripps Pemberton Greenish as a trainee, fresh out of law school.  I still remember being very excited about wearing my suit, and being impressed at how smart everyone else looked too.  The one-hole hole punches were also a big thing for me.

A few weeks into my training I misplaced my coat at the AGM, which had my car keys in the pocket.  I ended up being given a lift home by the then senior partner.  A good way to get to know the management!


  1. In your opinion, what makes a good trainee solicitor?

A good trainee solicitor will be:

  • Personable and able to engage well with clients;
  • Quick to understand the issues;
  • Accurate; and
  • Good at time recording.

One very good way to distinguish yourself as a trainee is to follow up – chase your supervisor if they haven’t responded to work you have drafted for them, and diarise when you send letters to clients or other institutions to follow up regularly. Be proactive – suggest the next steps on a file, rather than waiting to be spoon-fed.


  1. What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?

It’s very easy to get caught up in the day to day tasks we need to complete and lose track of the bigger picture – where we see our career going, and what we need to do to achieve that. Break those tasks into smaller chunks and put those on your to do list.

Which is all very good, but just having something on your to do list doesn’t get it done.

Well, whilst trying to put off doing something at home last week, I read a very good article on procrastination. The trick is to split your to list into 1) normal jobs and 2) big scary jobs – those jobs we often put off doing because they will take too long (who has a spare three hours in their day?), we don’t know where to start, or it will involve a difficult conversation etc….

First, exploit your tendency to procrastinate by putting off the big scary jobs by doing some of the normal jobs. Secondly, commit to just starting the big scary job. If I do nothing else today, I will spend one minute doing task x. Just one minute. And the next day, you do one more minute. You can do more if you want to, but all you’re committing to is one minute. Pretty soon the big scary job which loomed forbiddingly large a few days ago has now crumbled into tasks that are small enough that you’d rather work on them than do something else.

(you can read the full article here: