Emily Callaghan, trainee at Brodies LLP, discusses why she thinks a seat in personal and family law can appeal to everyone.

My traineeship has been incredibly varied across our Glasgow and Edinburgh offices.  I have even ventured up to Aberdeen for a day or two!

When I found out that my final seat was in the Personal and Family department (P&F), I was delighted, even though it meant that I would need to commute from Fife to Glasgow.  I was excited because I felt that P&F would allow me to focus on my client care skills, and after attending a client meeting within a matter of hours of joining P&F, I knew I had made the right decision.

If your firm offers a private client or family seat then I highly recommend taking it- even if it is not an area you have previously thought about. A seat in P&F can be invaluable, not just because of the skills and networks you will gain but also the value it provides to clients. Behind every corporate client, there are people with private lives, who may require legal advice.  For example, they might need estate planning, family law services or even want to establish a charity.  By gaining a knowledge of these areas, when you qualify you will be best placed to refer work to colleagues in P&F who can assist. Likewise, there are several areas where P&F will refer work and work alongside other departments to best service clients’ needs.

Whilst P&F can be challenging and involve dealing with people, who may  be at their most vulnerable, it can be incredibly rewarding to know that you have made a difference. For example, preparing a power of attorney for an elderly client in the knowledge that it will allow them and their family to make sure their decisions are followed or assisting a parent in securing contact with their children.  Each client is different and has individual needs.

Due to the nature of the work in P&F, there are many opportunities for client contact. In P&F, I have been responsible for my own files and with that means being responsible for my own clients! This involves everything from opening the file to billing the client and everything in between. I am the client contact for many files and I have led my own meetings with individuals, advising them on their options. P&F is also a highly technical area and while I have only had a taster of life as a P&F solicitor, I can vouch that it is both challenging and enjoyable!

The type of work I have been involved with has been incredibly interesting and exciting.  I have been very fortunate to not only work with our private client team but also to work alongside our family team. I have regularly taken clients’ instructions to draft wills, powers of attorney and trust documents, as well as assisting with registering charities.  With the family team, I have been involved in several separation and divorce actions as well as child contact cases and even assisted in the preparation of an adoption petition. It’s difficult to pick a highlight from my time in P&F, as I have gained so much. If I had to, I would say writing a blog that was published in the Glasgow Herald and assisting our family team with a complex child contact case.

Soon I will be handing over my P&F files, as I qualify into our Commercial Services Division, which I am incredibly excited for! I feel ready to start as an NQ, with the benefit of the skills I have gained throughout my traineeship and in particular, from P&F.


Emily Callaghan is a second year trainee with Brodies LLP, due to qualify into the Commercial Services Division.  Emily’s traineeship has been incredibly varied with seats in Commercial Services,  a client secondment,  Insurance and Risk, Property Litigation, Corporate Restructuring and Insolvency Litigation, Private Client and Family.  Before starting her traineeship, Emily worked with the Department for Work and Pensions for seven years.

The traineeship

Finish your legal education by learning 'on the job' working as a trainee under the supervision of a Scots-qualified solicitor. Traineeships last for a period of two years and, after its successful completion, you are ready to apply to take out a solicitor's practising certificate.