Once Ruth Sampson had made up her mind that law would be her chosen career, she embarked on a process of University study and on-the-job training to acquire the necessary skills to enable her to fulfil her ambition. She’d always enjoyed seeing an argument from both sides, had an incredible eye for detail and loved solving problems – someone who could challenge the status quo but ultimately solve a problem, so law seemed to be a natural fit.
Whilst studying at university, her enthusiasm for family and children’s law was evident – the interesting and emotive cases that were studied inspired Ruth, but in reality when the decision to practice was made, property law became her love.
For Ruth, once she had graduated it was a matter of finding a law practice where she could complete her training before qualifying as a Solicitor and it was Battrick Clark where she commenced this next phase of her legal journey. Starting as a paralegal, Ruth followed a structured training programme, mentored and supported by established Solicitors and she enjoyed a varied training period before deciding that property was the area of law that she wanted to specialise in. Ruth was fortunate to secure a permanent position with Battrick Clark following her training period and within three and a half years had risen from the ranks of Paralegal to Director. Quite an achievement!
Talking to Ruth it is evident that she doesn’t stand still when it comes to honing her skills and learning – “every day is different; the variety of cases that I work on means that there’s always something new for me to learn and although working to specific deadlines can be challenging, that’s what keeps me motivated – I deliver time critical solutions, so there’s always going to be pressure in my world”. This sort of attitude has helped Battrick Clark’s trainees and the evolution of their training programmes – Ruth’s been through the process quite recently and if there were any flaws in the programme whilst she was on it, they’ve now been eliminated!
Ruth recognises that the legal world has become more competitive with law practices having to create stronger brand identities to attract and retain clients; and establishing and maintaining affinity partnerships with financial, property and social care organisations means that Solicitors need more than the academic skills they acquire at University and during their traineeship. Solicitors now have to be more business and client focussed, realising the commercial opportunities that they can maximise when working with clients.
Added to these new pressures, technology also brings other challenges or as Ruth would say ‘opportunities’. “Technology in the world of law has meant our client communication relationships are more immediate and more frequent. Their ability to respond quicker using emails means that many client matters are dealt with more efficiently and technology also allows us to communicate other interesting information to our clients, which means we are more commercially focussed and able to target propositions which we believe could be of value to our clients.
Today’s young solicitors are more tech savvy – they use social media platforms to communicate and they realise the value that these methods of communication offer. Ruth is conscious that social media is not necessarily right for all her clients but there is a growing interest and with the vast amount of legal information available, it can be an easy way of communicating this to a large audience.
Misconception about what solicitors do is something that Ruth smiles about. “My friends and family seem to think that I’m an expert in all aspects of law! I have this debate with some of them about car parking tickets and speeding penalties and I have to explain to them that if it doesn’t involve a property or a family law issue then I’m probably not the right Solicitor for them – there are experts in all walks of life, but my expertise is in property law so if you’re looking for someone who can manage the purchase/sale of your property, or help with remortgaging then I am that person.
Ruth is a prime example of how legal traineeships work and she is always striving to improve the training programme for trainee solicitors at Battrick Clark so that they grow and acquire the necessary skills to be a legal expert in their chosen field.
So when asked “What’s the most important piece of advice Ruth would give a law student or graduate” she was quick to respond – “Know where you want to be and then go one step further – always strive for the top. Be prepared to work hard, never stop learning and understand that communicating with people from all walks of life is a skill that can always be improved upon”.