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Meet the lawyer

Alyssa Haggarty

Alyssa Haggarty

University: McMaster University
Degree: History and Classics
Year of qualification: September 2019
Position: Solicitor
Department: Private client
Pronouns: (she/her)

What attracted you to a career in law? 

I already had some of the skills that are suited to a solicitor, including problem solving and excellent communication, so it felt like a good fit. I also wanted a career where I could support myself in an interesting and varied job. We spend a lot of time at work so you might as well do something you like!

How did you decide which firms to apply to?

I knew I wanted to train in Bristol having completed my degree at the University of Bristol. Another factor that influenced my decision making was that I need a work visa to work in the UK because I’m from Canada, so I applied only to firms that would sponsor my visa. Of all the firms I applied to and completed vacation schemes with, Burges Salmon LLP was the one that stood out the most to me.  One of the specific aspects that attracted me to the firm, was that  it allowed its trainees to try out six seats instead of four.

Please discuss a specific deal/case that you were involved with, outlining your role in the matter.

During covid-19, I helped to set up a brand-new charitable foundation for a high-net-worth client. This involved advising the client on the type of charity that would be best for its aims, setting up the charity, talking to them about the purposes of the charity, drafting documents and registering it in the charity commission. It’s a great feeling to create a new entity and see it up and running, knowing you were a part of that.

What do you most/least enjoy about your career and why?

I like the human element of my job because you’re a trusted adviser who gives people peace of mind about their estate planning.

The downside to being a solicitor is the time and study it takes to get where you need to be, but it is definitely worth it!

How involved are you with business development and promoting the firm?

Everyone in the firm gets involved in business development, from trainees to partners. I recently recorded a podcast episode with our private client team's podcast talking about the philanthropy and charity work that we do. There have been fewer opportunities because of covid-19 but there are still opportunities like zoom wine tastings or social events that have started to pick up again.

What skills/strengths do you need to be a successful solicitor? 

Organisation and the ability to prioritise are important skills for a successful solicitor. Private client lawyers have numerous ongoing matters on at the same time so you must be able to prioritise your workload depending on what’s most important and urgent. Communication is also an important skill; it is your job to explain complex parts of the law to clients succinctly.

On top of those, in the legal profession, it can be very easy to get caught up in the idea that you must know everything, particularly for more junior lawyers! So, not being too hard on yourself is also a good skill for a successful solicitor. You don’t need to know the answer to everything, and you won’t be expected to either. That said, you should know where to find it so perseverance and excellent initiative is also essential.

What advice do you have for budding solicitors who are contemplating a career in law? 

I would advise aspiring solicitors to try to get legal work experience, as difficult as this might be. However, this isn’t always possible so it’s also important to emphasise the significance of transferable skills –– for example, you should evidence the transferable skills from any retail experience you might have in your application.

Describe the firm in three words. 

Burges Salmon is collaborative, quality (work and people) and fun!

What’s the biggest opportunity you’ve been given since joining the firm? 

During covid, I helped an existing charity that was considering making a change to its structure and coordinated advice in six foreign jurisdictions. It was a huge task but also an enjoyable experience dealing with lawyers in different jurisdictions.

What book are you reading at the moment? 

Any dog training manual that I can get my hands on because I have a seven-month-old puppy!