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Stories from our trainees and paralegals


Heather Farquharson

Paralegal – Corporate – Southampton

Sam Harkness

Trainee Solicitor – Commercial & Private Client Litigation – Taunton

Abigail Hirsch

Paralegal – Financial Services Litigation – Cardiff

Heather Farquharson

Heather Farquharson - Corporate Paralegal - SouthamptonHeather Farquharson is a paralegal in our Southampton Corporate team.

I joined Clarke Willmott in July 2015 after attending Peter Symonds College, where I studied a legal secretary course. I joined Clarke Willmott as an administrative assistant in the Corporate and Commercial team. My role progressed to legal secretary and I assisted the fee earners in the team with day-to-day diary management, amendments of legal documents and raising client bills.

My role further progressed into a paralegal and I am currently studying through the CILEX route. I study in the evenings and weekends, with exams twice a year. I will eventually qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive.

How do you work with other teams at Clarke Willmott?

Working in the Corporate team means that we often work with other teams in the office. We work frequently with the Commercial Property and Employment teams, albeit since the pandemic we communicate through video calls more often than we used to.

What is your experience of hybrid working at Clarke Willmott?

During the pandemic, the entire firm moved to working from home and over time, hybrid working was introduced. I split my time 50:50 between working from home and working in the office. I like having the option to work from home if I wish, however I find that being in the office is invaluable when being a paralegal and learning from others. As a team, we try to come into the office on the same days so we can catch up with one another.

What do you enjoy most about working at Clarke Willmott?

The colleagues at Clarke Willmott make it a fantastic place to work and learn. Everyone is friendly, supportive, and always more than happy to help regardless of their seniority.

Being on the Southampton Social Committee means that I help organise social events for the office. We hold an end of financial year party every year, as well as a Christmas party, along with various other events during the year.

What keeps you at Clarke Willmott?

Put simply, I thoroughly enjoy working at Clarke Willmott and I feel fully supported by the firm in achieving my goal of qualifying in the near future.

Sam Harkness

Sam Harkness - Commercial Litigation - Clarke Willmott TauntonSam is a solicitor in our Taunton Commercial & Private Client Litigation team.

I joined Clarke Willmott in August 2019 as a paralegal in the Commercial & Private Client Litigation team, immediately after graduating from the University of Nottingham. I had been job-hunting for some time before graduation to try to find a paralegal job that was within reach of my home, offered me good opportunities to build a career and do fulfilling work with clients; the role in C&PC Litigation gave me a perfect mix of all three!
Since joining, I have been able to establish myself, particularly by assisting Daniel Gill and Tim Hayden in our Crime & Regulatory team. As of November 2022, I am now a Solicitor with the firm.

Describe your typical work day at Clarke Willmott

It is very hard to pin down a typical day here, not least in my team! This is in part due to the wide variety of the work we handle on a daily basis. The general rule I have learned is that if there is a potential civil litigation issue, there will be someone in our team who has worked on similar matters before and can assist. Personally, I have focused a lot of my practice on the criminal and regulatory work that we do. Even in that particular sector of work, I can’t describe a typical day. I could do anything from attend an interview under caution for the Environment Agency or police, attend court with counsel, or advise clients on regulatory proceedings brought against them.

What attracted you to Clarke Willmott in the first place?

Clarke Willmott has a very unique status compared to other law firms I have encountered. It is very much a national law firm with big-name clients and quality work, but also retains its strong regional connections and heritage. My family has been in the West Country for generations, and I have relatives heavily involved in agriculture and field sports. The fact that the C&PC Litigation do a significant amount of rural and agriculturally-based litigation, contributed highly to my interest in the firm.

What is your experience of working flexibly at Clarke Willmott?

During the pandemic, I really struggled after the first month of working at home due to my own living situation. By the end of May, I had reached a stage where working from home was untenable for a variety of personal reasons regarding the work that my family were doing, and the lack of space at home. My line manager Esther was extremely supportive, and so successfully pushed for me to be able to work as the one member of my team in the office full-time; I will always be grateful for that support, and grateful that I was able to get back to working at a level which I could be proud of.

What keeps you at Clarke Willmott?

I feel thoroughly supported by my team and my managing partners; I feel that they are genuinely a lovely bunch of people to work with. They make it very easy for me to want to remain at Clarke Willmott, and I want to build a career here for the future and progress in my team. In addition, I thoroughly enjoy the interesting work I have been able to carry out here and the relationships I have been able to build with clients. I am very comfortable in saying that I don’t think I could do what I do now anywhere else!

Abigail Hirsch

Abigail Hirsch - Paralegal - Financial Services Litigation - CardiffAbigail is a paralegal in our Cardiff Financial Services Litigation team.

I joined CW in September 2021, after completing my law degree and LPC. Since joining I have been trusted with more responsibilities within the team, which is very empowering.

Tell us about your experience of working in the Financial Services Litigation team.

It has been a fantastic experience working in the Financial Services Litigation team specialising in mis-sold pension transfer advice claims. I find my role within the team very rewarding as we have helped many clients reclaim funds that otherwise they would not have been able to obtain.

What attracted you to Clarke Willmott in the first place?

There was a lot of local press in the South Wales area relating to the BSPS pension mis-selling scandal and having completed my degree, I felt it would be a great place to start my career whilst making a difference in the local community.

What is it like working in the Financial Services Litigation team?

The team is fantastic, it’s so rewarding working for a team that really want to make a difference. I never feel nervous to ask questions or raise issues and always feel supported in my role.

What keeps you at Clarke Willmott?

In terms of what keeps me at CW, I would say that I enjoy working with such a supportive and hard-working team.

Michelle Manley

Michelle Manley - Paralegal - Court of Protection - Clarke Willmott BristolMichelle is a paralegal in our Bristol Private Capital team.

I joined in CW in 2011 as an admin assistant, working in the Court of Protection finance team based in Bristol. It was my very first formal job since I moved to the UK from China and finished my legal course in the UK. I am now a paralegal in the Court of Protection finance team.

Describe your typical work day at Clarke Willmott

Going through posts and emails; dealing with phone calls from clients’ family, social services and other professionals; sorting out team admin

What is your experience of working flexibly at Clarke Willmott?

I feel that it has been more flexible in choosing to work from home or working in the office. The head of our team has always been very supportive and understandable if I need to work from home.

What do you enjoy most about working at Clarke Willmott?

The people make the difference. I love our team and really enjoy working with my colleagues in the COP team.

What keeps you at Clarke Willmott?

The people I am working with.

Ryan Rahim

Ryan Rahim - Paralegal - Business Recovery Unit - Clarke Willmott TauntonRyan is a paralegal in our Taunton Business Recovery Unit.

In 2016, through an employment workshop at my university, I learnt how Clarke Willmott give students from diverse backgrounds the opportunity they need to start their legal career. I applied and was really pleased to be accepted. Despite having two legal degrees from different jurisdictions I’d found it hard to find a role that didn’t require me to have work experience, so this was perfect. During my work placement, I sat in firm’s Financial Services Litigation, Family and Property Litigation teams. After the work placement, I had a valuable insight of a large commercial firm. I was drawn by the standard of litigation work, knowledge and expertise that the firm had.

Though between 2016 and 2020 I worked for other firms, I knew which kind of firm I want to settle in. Clarke Willmott was on top of my list. In 2020, I joined the Clarke Willmott’s Business Recovery Litigation team as a paralegal.

Tell us about your experience of working in the BRU Insurance team

I work on the defended insurance claims and I deal with mostly subrogated, non-personal injury road traffic accident (RTA) claims. Whilst I have my own caseload that I manage under supervision, I also assist our other sub-teams in reviewing prospect and issuing court proceedings once the pre-action steps are exhausted. Apart from RTA matters, I also get to review and issue other claims arising from breach of contract or third-party negligence.

Describe your typical workday at Clarke Willmott

I strongly believe litigator’s success depend on how well organised they are and how efficiently they can juggle their daily work. The firm has an established customised case management system that helps me to check every case regularly and organise my daily work. At least once a week, I check each case I am dealing with and update the client. I action daily posts to ensure the court deadlines and directions are met on time. I give advice to our insurer client and their customers, and if appropriate, negotiate settlements in line with the client’s instructions. If the settlement is not reached, I prepare the matters for hearings, assisting the court to ensure that the hearing can progress as efficiently as possible.

What is your experience of working flexibly at Clarke Willmott?

When I joined Clarke Willmott, not only was I a young parent, I also committed to sit for final stage of LPC exams. My supervisor was aware of my situation and had supported to me to balance my work, family and student lives. Working from home during the pandemic meant I was able to cut a huge travel time and invest that time to my study and looking after my family. I can proudly say that I passed my LPC and have become a graduate member of CILEX. I am now hoping to be Fellow CILEX member and then qualify as a solicitor by the end of next year.

What’s the culture like at Clarke Willmott?

We are a group of friendly, hardworking, caring and kind people who treat each other equally and with respect. There is accessible support that we can use and approachable people that we can go to. Instead of blaming, we take responsibility collectively and do the best to resolve any problems. We believe in treating customers with upmost respect and respond to their needs with efficiency. We value the tradition and support the local communities, but equally appreciate the need of adopting new ideas and technologies.

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