Aidan Tuohy recently completed his traineeship and has accepted a position as a newly qualified solicitor with Neilsons Solicitors and Estate. During the first twelve months of his training contract, he was based in the Scottish Borders dealing with residential conveyancing and private client matters. Aidan now works solely in residential conveyancing in Edinburgh City Centre.

I had the benefit of working in the Scottish Borders for the first twelve months of my traineeship and other than a few run-ins with pheasants along the notorious A7, it was an enjoyable and worthwhile experience which I would recommend to any prospective trainee.  Here, I highlight the top three benefits of working in rural practice:

Community

Working in Selkirk, famous for Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott, I discovered that Selkirk is inhabited by people who are immensely proud of their town and legal history.

Community focus is extremely strong with entire generations of families who have instructed the same solicitors for every milestone life brings. From a business perspective, I learnt that it was vital that these relationships are nurtured and that the rapport continues across the years.

Quality over quantity

I primarily dealt with residential conveyancing and private client matters. The level of transactions within the Borders is less than you would find in a city centre practice in Edinburgh or Glasgow.

There was certainly no shortage of work, however, the smaller volumes means that a more tailored and hand held approach to client transactions exists. This additional time can be crucial for trainee development and gives opportunity to develop important solicitor-client communication skills.

Broader legal experience

In rural practice, there are ultimately fewer firms dealing with specific practice areas, but individual client needs remain the same. It is often the case that rural practice solicitors specialise in a broad spectrum of practice areas. This can allow trainees exposure to a wide vary of legal areas.  

In larger city centre practices, it can often be the case that you are a small cog in a very big wheel and may only be seen as a small part of the business. Whereas by definition, in a small rural practice you have a far more generalised scope of practice and have a far more integral involvement in the firm.

In conclusion, it's fair to say, the vast majority of trainees will continue to be employed in large corporate firms in major cities, focusing on business areas of law. Although this offers an excellent opportunity, it remains that students ought to be aware of other opportunities which exist with small to medium size law firms in the high street and towns across Scotland.

The opportunity to work in rural practice provided me with the transferable client service and practical legal skills which I will carry forward in my legal career

Finding a traineeship

Read about how the Law Society can support students looking for traineeships, in addition to guidance about where traineeships might be advertised.