We provide opportunities for you to progress within the firm and support you in your career aspirations.


Many of our legal support staff choose to progress their careers with us by studying for a CILEX qualification. Our Paralegals have progressed to become Trainee Solicitors and many of our Trainee Solicitors have progressed to becoming Associates and then on to become Partners.

Nigel Smith - Managing Partner

“I started at the firm 30 years ago in 1986 as a Trainee Solicitor (Articled Clerk back then!). I was keen to progress and was given the opportunity to do so. At the tender age of 28, I became one of the youngest Equity Partners in the country and from day 1 was very much part of the management of the firm. I assumed the role of Managing Partner in 1999 and have been allowed to develop into that role. I am committed to creating an environment where everyone is encouraged to achieve personal excellence and to giving everyone in the firm the opportunity to further their careers in the same way in which I was. That philosophy is reflected in the fact that more than a third of the Partners and half of the Associates in the firm started here as Trainees. Long may that continue!”

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Lauren Day - Partner & Head of Dispute Resolution

“After completing my training contract with Ellis Jones – which was both engaging and challenging – I qualified into the firm’s Dispute Resolution team. Having received excellent support and training I was made an Associate in 2012 and a partner in December 2013. I feel that my rapid progression to partner reflects the firm’s commitment to support and development for their staff. I doubt that I would have had such opportunities at other firms”

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Kate Brooks - Partner & Head of Employment/HR Law

“I started my training contract at Ellis Jones in 2009, I qualified into the Employment Department in September 2011. I was promoted to Associate and Head of the Department in 2013. I had a baby girl in September 2015 and was promoted to Senior Associate while I was on maternity leave at the start of 2016. Ellis Jones supported me in a flexible return to work in 2016, I currently work flexibly from each of our offices, remotely from home and have flexible hours so that I can spend time with my daughter. I have recently been promoted to Partner (effective from January 2018). I really appreciate the support that Ellis Jones has given me through the years, particularly in relation to my return to work following maternity leave and supporting me to become a Partner”

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Katie Taft - Partner & Solicitor

“After completing my training contract with Ellis Jones in 2010 I qualified into the firm’s Family team. I had spent almost 9 months in the department during my two year training contract and knew that family law was my passion. Ellis Jones have consistently provided me with support, encouragement and mentoring throughout my career which has allowed me to pursue my career goals. I was promoted to Associate Solicitor in 2013 and to Senior Associate Solicitor in 2016. In January 2018 I was appointed as a Partner of the firm joining a team of Partners, many of whom also trained at Ellis Jones. The firm’s commitment to “growing their own” is unrivalled by other firms in the local area and in turn, creates an environment of loyalty, teamwork and trust throughout the partnership and across the firm generally”

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David McWilliam - Partner and Head of Personal Injury & Sports Law

I carried out 2 weeks work experience at Ellis Jones in July 1995 and then started as a paralegal in the Personal Injury Team in August 1995.  I was then offered a training contract which I successfully completed, and I qualified as a Solicitor into the Personal Injury Department in November 1997 where I have remained to this day.  I was promoted to Partner in 2012 and run the Personal Injury Team.

In 2019, I successfully completed a Post-Graduate Certificate in Sports Law at Leicester De Montfort University and then set up a Sports Law Department at Ellis Jones in 2020.

I was the firm’s first Trainee Solicitor for some time.  Since then, the firm has embraced trainees and many of them have gone on to have successful law careers within the firm and many are now Partners.

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Conor Maher - Senior Associate Solicitor

“I started my training contract in September 2019 within the Banking and Finance Litigation Department, working alongside William Fox-Bregman and Paul Kanolik. In March 2020 I moved to Dispute Resolution, training under Lauren Day, before moving to Commercial Property (Ringwood) in September 2020 for 3 months alongside Matthew Clake, and latterly in December 2020 to the Criminal Department under Jonathan Morrissey.

During my training contract, I was supported by the firm in undertaking the professional skills course and other professional development and training opportunities at my request and discretion. Further, I was given huge scope to engage in networking and business development even at an early stage in my career at Ellis Jones.

I chose to qualify into Dispute Resolution and Crime as a ‘best of both worlds’, for which Ellis Jones were extremely supportive. Furthermore, I have been given huge support to develop new business in the area of Regulatory and Disciplinary Law; support which goes above and beyond what I would have expected to receive as a newly-qualified solicitor seeking to develop a new practice area.”

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Georgina Emerson - Associate Solicitor

“In September 2019, I started my training contract at Ellis Jones. I spent the first 6 months working under William Fox-Bregman in Banking & Finances, before transitioning to a seat in the Family department, being led and supervised by Deborah Leask and Katie Taft. I spent the next 9 months in the Family Department which cemented my interest and passion for family law. During the last 3 months of my training contract, I gained experienced in Ellis Jones’ Employment department under Kate Brooks. Due to practicing as a paralegal for 2 years, Ellis Jones kindly supported my application for ‘time to count’ and I qualified into the Family Department 6 months early, on 3 March 2021.

I have been provided with invaluable training and opportunities throughout my time at Ellis Jones which has enabled me to now practice all areas of family law (private children, matrimonial finance, cohabitation disputes, domestic abuse injunctions etc) and I have built a reputation and specialism for dealing with international children cases, to include child abduction and international relocation. Due to the Firm having a London presence, I have been able to expand my practice in London and in 2023, I was appointment an officer of the Child Abduction Lawyers Association Committee.

I was promoted to Associate solicitor in January 2023, at less than 2 years PQE. Ellis Jones has supported my career aspirations and allowed me to thrive and pursue my goals. After 8 years of working at the Firm, I remain proud to be part of the Ellis Jones family.”

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Leah Sharman - Solicitor

“I first joined Ellis Jones in 2017, as a Conveyancing Administrator, as I was interested in law and wanted to see if I enjoyed it before committing to study and eventually qualifying. I worked within the Conveyancing department for  three and a half years, working my way up to become a fee-earning Paralegal. Whilst in the Conveyancing department, the firm encouraged me to start studying with the Chartered Institute for Legal Executives (CILEX) and I passed the Level 3 Diploma in Law and Practice in early 2021. Whilst studying with CILEX, I took an interest in litigation, and I moved to the Banking and Finance Litigation department in January 2021. Alongside gaining valuable experience in the department, I began studying for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) and I sat and passed SQE1 in July 2023 and SQE2 in January 2024.

Seven years after joining Ellis Jones, and after almost 5 years of studying whilst working full-time, I am now a Solicitor in the Banking and Finance Litigation department. Studying whilst working full-time was definitely challenging, but I found that being able to apply what I was learning to real-life scenarios to be very helpful. Ellis Jones have been extremely supportive with both my studies and progression through the firm, and I think that the experience I have gained will be invaluable in my future career as a solicitor.”

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Hannah Roberts - Paralegal

“In February 2013 I was employed by Ellis Jones as the secretary to the Head of the Employment Department. In December 2014, after showing an active interest in employment law and asking for additional work to gain experience and knowledge, the firm both encouraged and supported me in pursuing a legal qualification through the CILEx route. In April 2016 I was promoted to paralegal and I became an Associate member of CILEx in May 2017. I am currently working towards my Level 6 qualification. I am very grateful to the firm for their commitment to my training and career development, particularly as I didn’t think I’d ever have the opportunity to study and practice law having not attended university”

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Matt Rushent - Trainee Solicitor

I started my Training Contract with Ellis Jones in 2022. Before starting my Training Contract, I had worked at a Top 10 Accountancy & Audit firm before returning to law and completing my LPC. I lacked legal work experience and applied to Ellis Jones to obtain this in the summer of 2021. From that experience, I knew that Ellis Jones was the firm for me. I have lived in Dorset for all of my life (save for university) and knew of the firm’s high prestige in the area and beyond. What impressed me most was the culture of the firm, and how much everyone that I worked with during my work experience enjoyed being at Ellis Jones, and how many Partners and Lawyers had trained with firm and stayed with the firm.

I began my Training Contract in Wills, Trusts & Probate working with Carla Brown and I thoroughly enjoyed my seat with this team. I then moved to Dispute Resolution which, in addition to general litigation, has various specialisms and corresponding smaller teams within the team. Working predominantly with Lauren Day and Conor Maher, I enjoyed various areas within the team’s remit, but I took a particular liking to Contentious Trusts & Probate work, which is an area that complimented my skills and one that I found particularly interesting and rewarding. I discussed with Lauren that this was an area that I was particularly enjoying and wanted to continue with, and the stars aligned such that I was able to fashion a seat (and a further, second seat) doing exclusively Contentious Trusts & Probate work.

In my view, the firm accommodating my request to spend my third and, ultimately, my fourth and final seats doing Contentious Trusts & Probate examples the firm’s commitment to their staff and to internal development and progression. As well as supporting me through the PSC, I have been able to attend, at my request, various seminars and conferences specific to this area. The firm strikes the perfect balance between giving trainees responsibility and ownership of work against the support and development that’s offered to trainees, which I have certainly benefited from. I have also been able to take ownership of projects within the firm that fall outside of Contentious Trusts & Probate, which the firm has supported me in.

I am due to qualify into the Dispute Resolution team in September 2024, specialising in Contentious Trusts & Probate. Like many Partners, Associates and Lawyers before me, I see my long-term future as being with Ellis Jones and hope to repay the firm’s commitment to me and my development in the many years to come.

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Melissa Windeatt - Conveyancing Executive

I first joined Ellis Jones in February 2018 in a bold (and somewhat daunting) career change from Head of Studio at a Landscape Design company. Having no law degree or legal background, it was a true leap of faith for Ellis Jones to consider my interest in joining the Firm.

I began as a secretary in the Banking & Finance Litigation Department and shortly progressed to the position of Personal Assistant to Partner and Solicitor, Paul Kanolik. It was during this time that we began to investigate the possibilities of furthering my education and gaining an additional qualification. William Fox-Bregman, Paul Kanolik and the rest of the team helped to develop my practical law skills and shared their knowledge to give me a suitable foundation from which to progress and become a Paralegal. Ellis Jones was instrumental in providing the support and encouragement needed to embark on part-time study via the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX), and I successfully achieved the CILEX Level 3 Diploma in Law and Practice.

Following this, and to understand what area of law I wanted to qualify into, I approached the Partners to explore whether it would be possible to obtain an insight into other specialisms and, in particular, the non-contentious practice of Residential Conveyancing. I was extremely fortunate that Craig Wells and the Swanage conveyancing team welcomed me to their department. Since then, I have continued to learn as much as possible in order to be effective in both my everyday work and my continued training. Craig’s breadth of knowledge, skill and tutelage has been fundamental in my development within conveyancing. I am now a Conveyancing Executive, studying the new CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ) and with a variety of options for active networking and business development.

I certainly would not be where I am today without Ellis Jones’ commitment and forward-thinking attitude. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve!

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