Anna Craven and Andrew Toward are the latest Winn Solicitors candidates to be offered and begin training contracts.
Having both completed their law degrees at Northumbria University, we spoke to them as they take on the next phase of their legal careers, discussing their time at Winns so far, and their future ambitions.
What roles have you previously had at Winns?
Anna: After starting at Winns as a Legal Assistant in the Part 7 Department, where I assisted the Fee Earners by negotiating credit hire, valuing personal injury and drafting court documents, I then moved to become a Fee Earner myself.
Andrew: Following my four-year Solicitors Exempting Law degree at Northumbria University, where the LPC was integrated into my third and fourth year of study, I started at Winns as a Legal Clerk within Vehicle Damage. I’ve gained a good amount of experience throughout my time, including moving to the Multi-Track team within VD to deal solely with high-value costs bearing files.
What is your current role and what does it involve?
Anna: I am currently a Trainee Solicitor. As well as continuing my Fee Earner role and dealing with a caseload, I carry out any additional tasks set. This includes research reports, opinions on quantum and representing clients at hearings.
Andrew: My role within Vehicle Damage on the Multi-Track team involves dealing solely with our higher value Multi-Track Credit Hire files. An important part of this is to assess the various risk factors of a case from the outset. For example, establishing whether a client is impecunious, did they have a sufficient need for hire and is the period of hire reasonable? These factors are key in assessing the strength of your case with a view to proposing a Part 36 offer which could place the Defendant at costs risk.
How did you find the process of obtaining a training contract with Winns?
Anna: We were set a research question and following the submission of our answers, we were interviewed by the panel. The interview was tough and I know it wasn’t my best moment, but I’m grateful that my performance as a Fee Earner over the previous few months was taken into account.
Andrew: This was my first time applying for a training contract as I probably lacked a little confidence in the one round of applications previously and wanted a little more experience. I had great support from my colleagues too who all thought I would be daft not to apply!
The competency question was challenging, as was the covering letter; as I had never really had experience of working with Jo (Amos) and Dula (Miah), it was more difficult than I expected to attempt to ‘sell’ myself. When I received the news and came into the office, all I could do was put two thumbs up and grin to my colleagues! Everyone gathered around to congratulate me. I had to take myself outside for a quiet word with myself, and to give my wife and parents the lovely news.
How are you finding the training contract so far, how far through are you, and what needs to be done in order for you to complete it?
Anna: I’m about two months in and am enjoying carrying out the additional work as it can be very different to our normal day-to-day work. All being well, the training contract should complete in November 2023. During this time, we have to evidence our work done in a diary and make sure we meet the SRA’s requirements.
Andrew: It’s a challenge, but no more than I expected. It’s no secret that Vehicle Damage has massively expanded in light of the new business taken on following the reforms, so our caseloads have grown also. I’ve now conducted various pieces of research for different departments including our new Wills Department and Part 7 (on three high-value files). In my second week, I advocated for the first time at an Allocation Hearing with a successful result, which I was really proud of – probably my best moment yet.
On top of this, being a ‘mature trainee’ means I’m balancing my increased workload with having a two-year-old daughter, so any work at home is usually done once the bath, bottle and bed is over too! All in a day’s work….
What are your career ambitions after completing your training contract?
Anna: Being honest, I am not 100% sure what I would like to do. My ultimate goal is to become a Coroner but that may be a bit too ambitious!
Andrew: I’d of course like to take up a role as a Solicitor within the firm. I genuinely enjoy what I’m doing now and the people I work with are some of the best friends I have. I do enjoy helping others where possible as I’m quite an empathic person. I’m looking forward to working with our Wills team during my training contract and seeing how the department develops.
What do you like best about working at Winns?
Anna: Probably the amount of experience you can gain. I like the amount of responsibility and I am looking forward to the advocacy side of things.
Andrew: Without a shadow of a doubt, my workmates and the team spirit we have. There are plenty of days which are harder than others, however, there is always someone who will ask how you are or drop you a message, even outside of work hours, to ask if you need any support.
Which is your favourite Winn Group staff benefit?
Anna: I would say flexible working hours as it gives us more freedom in the working day.
Andrew: The bonus structure is really rewarding. Put the hard work in and you will reap the benefits of it one way or another.
I’d like to add a big thank you for the support that I’ve had to allow me to progress to where I am now. I’d particularly like to thank my supervisor. I’ve learned a great deal from her and my confidence has improved under her supervision, particularly as she chose me to join her Multi-Track team (the rest of the team were qualified solicitors and almost qualified CiLex colleagues) which was a massive confidence boost. Thanks also to the senior management for offering me a position in April 2018 too, I’ll always be thankful for that. A special mention too to my pre-Covid supervisor. I learned a great deal from her, and she was always supportive as my team leader from a work and welfare perspective.
Jo Amos and Dula Miah, part of the training contract selection process, were keen to congratulate the successful candidates in their progress so far with Dula, Solicitor/Supervisor saying;
“Anna and Andrew are both extremely hardworking Trainee Solicitors who in the early stages of their Training Contract have shown a dedication and commitment to their roles with a willingness to embrace new challenges and responsibilities. It is great to see them doing so well in their new roles.”
And Jo Amos, Head of the Complex Claims Team and COLP adding;
“I am pleased that they have both made such a good start to their training contracts and I am sure they will continue the high standard over the next two years.”