Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow!

"I have always been interested in the law". When I was in primary school my grandparents divorced. I saw the helplessness of my grandmother after 40 years of marriage with no idea what to do next. That's when she instructed a solicitor, who worked her 'magic' and supported my grandmother through what was undoubtedly the hardest period of her life.

From that point onwards I spent my time telling everyone that I wanted to become a solicitor. I told my teachers at my primary school in Monk Bretton and never wavered. My parents laughed but never gave my ideas any consideration, probably because previously I had told them I was going to be a vet, an astronaut or whatever else had popped into my head.

When I left primary school, I started my secondary education at a town centre high school (Holgate School Sports College). After completing my GCSE's, I progressed onto Barnsley College to complete my A levels, one of which was Law. I found the transition hard and suddenly felt unclear on what was next. University had been discussed at college, but no one in my family had ever gone to university so I wasn't sure how to proceed.

I investigated higher-level apprenticeships because the prospects of earning whilst I was studying was far more appealing than the idea of university fees! However, these apprenticeships were hard to come by. In the end I settled on a handful of universities, including the University of Huddersfield.

Following receipt of my A-level results my place at the University of Huddersfield was accepted to study a Law degree. I was happy that I secured a place at the University as it felt right and a better choice than others I had visited.

Following completion of my first year, future employment was discussed. The university was great in understanding that we needed to have great education, but also gain real life experience and be seen as employable. I began participating in the Law Clinic at the University, providing free assistance to those who needed it. I worked on predominantly family matters, but also a little civil and property law. I also participated in the Justice for Orgreave team, gathering key evidence. As a granddaughter of a miner from Barnsley, participation was never up for debate.

Following the end of my undergraduate degree I obtained a first-class honours degree in Law. I then stayed on at the university and completed my Legal Practice Course (LPC) which is a further qualification for those who wished to secure a training contract and become a qualified solicitor. When completing my LPC it became apparent that the road ahead to qualifying as a solicitor was not going to be plain sailing. I seemed to be the only person in the room without a connection to a firm via a friend or family member.

I was told repeatedly that obtaining a training contract was very difficult and the competition was hard. The prospects were daunting especially as already a lot of my peers were securing training contracts with firms all over the country.

Post university I managed to secure a role with a city centre law firm in Leeds. I started at entry level and hoped, to gain some experience outside of the classroom.

I then saw the job role advertised at Peace Legal. The role was in family law in a team on the High Street in Wombwell, less than five miles from where grew up.

Thankfully, I was successful in securing the position and I began working in a small team alongside solicitors Alexandra Speight and Julian Flewitt. From day one it was worlds apart from what I had been doing.

After 18 months of hard work, the firm offered me a training contract. I was absolutely overjoyed at the opportunity. I continue to work in the family team and now have experience in both public law and private law. I qualified as a Solicitor on the 1st November 2023, and continue to work in my hometown and work in the type of law that sparked my interest so many years ago.

Should you or anyone you know, require any legal advice in respect of family matters, please do not hesitate to contact myself or our team for a consultation.

Ellis Tolan


Posted on Nov 09, 2023

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