Matthew Rushent

Trainee Solicitor

DATE PUBLISHED: 12 Feb 2024 LAST UPDATED: 12 Feb 2024

My Training Contract & Becoming a Contentious Trusts & Probate Trainee

I came to the firm and to my training contract having had a less-than-typical route. I had studied Law at Swansea University, but then after graduating, I began working towards the ACA; a chartered accountancy qualification provided by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. I quickly worked out that this wasn’t me, and that I had made a mistake in not pursuing Law. I applied for the LPC and obtained my CFAB (Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business) but I realised that, despite having transferable skills, I would need to have some legal work experience in order to be successful in any training contract application. In the summer before beginning the LPC, I began two weeks’ work experience, which ultimately turned into a temporary role doing paralegal work.

Why Ellis Jones?

I knew almost instantly that this was the firm that I wanted to work at and applied for a Training Contract to begin once I had completed my studies. Despite then being new to the firm, I found that I had the perfect balance between responsibility and support, meaning that I was able to do valuable and meaningful work to assist in progressing matters whilst being able to ask questions as and when I needed to, and take advantage of the firm’s “open-door” policy. I was successful in getting an offer for a Training Contract and accepted without delay.

My experience of the temporary role has reflected that as a Trainee Solicitor. I do valuable work in progressing matters and act as a point-of-contact for clients. My experience as a Trainee is that I do the same or similar work to that of a qualified lawyer, but with the benefit of support, guidance and the safety-net provided by Partners and other lawyers. For me, what sets Ellis Jones apart is how real and present the firm’s core values are in my day-to-day work life, and how front-and-centre my development and desires are for all of the Partners and Lawyers that I have worked with, across departments and offices.

My experience so far

My first seat was in our firm’s Wills, Trusts & Probate team. In this seat, I felt I had a pre-existing skill set that suited the work and was confident in getting involved in some of the more complex matters, including complex Trusts and Tax. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this seat and working in the ‘Private Client’ sphere.

I then moved to Dispute Resolution, with an open mind as to the nature of the work but with a preconceived idea that I didn’t love arguing, so may not be the right fit for litigation. Very quickly, I realised that this preconception was completely misguided, and that seeking “Resolution” is much more important than the “Dispute”. I loved that I was able to assist clients in what is usually a difficult, stressful or otherwise challenging time. Even more so, I’ve found that my contributions, whether in drafting or strategy, are really valued by the particular lawyer that I’m working with on a given matter.

"I’ve developed myself massively, both professionally and personally."

The work that our Dispute Resolution team do is incredibly varied; if you can think of a possible Dispute, you can all-but guarantee the team has an expert for it. Having enjoyed Wills, Trusts & Probate, I found myself gravitating towards Contentious Trusts and Probate work. As I progressed through my seat, I found that I was able to apply my pre-existing skills, as well as those that I had developed in my first seat, to disputes and to assisting clients in a contentious setting. The work is incredibly varied too, involving matters such as Will challenges, claims under the Inheritance (PFD) Act 1975, Administration disputes, Trust disputes, Court of Protection/Attorney-related work and challenging lifetime dispositions, to name a few.

As I was coming to the end of my seat in Dispute Resolution, I was becoming increasingly sure that I wanted to qualify into Dispute Resolution, and specifically, to specialise in Contentious Trusts and Probate. I had a very open conversation with Lauren Day, the Partner and Head of our team, and expressed this to her. I was acutely aware that there hadn’t been a specific Contentious Trusts and Probate trainee before but expressed a desire to spend my next seat doing exactly that. As above, the firm puts such an emphasis on developing talent internally, and this is exemplified by the firm accommodating my desire to do a seat in an area which had not previously been an offering.

Get in touch

This emphasis on internal development is one of many reasons that I would encourage those applying for Training Contracts to look no further than Ellis Jones. If you might benefit from an open and frank conversation about the application process or my experience as a Trainee Solicitor so far, please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, or alternatively, send me an email on matt.rushent@ellisjones.co.uk.

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