Receptionist to probate specialist

Hard work takes Amy from receptionist to probate specialist

Vincents’ Private Client department is celebrating after junior team member Amy Whiteside qualified as a professional probate specialist. Amy began her Vincents career as a receptionist in the Knott End office and has undertaken a series of courses and in-house training over the last seven years to become a Level 4 Probate Practitioner.

Amy is one of a number of Vincents employees who are pursuing a legal career without a traditional undergraduate law degree, as part of the firm’s in-house training programme. They work in a variety of roles, depending on prior qualifications and experience, as legal assistants, para legals or administration assistants while taking external courses.

This affords trainees crucial real life experience alongside the classroom-based technical expertise needed to do the job, and mirrors the traditional route where law graduates undertake training contracts to gain the experience needed to qualify as a solicitor.
Licensed probate practitioners are qualified, professional probate lawyers, who specialise in the legal aspects surrounding inheritance and the administration of Wills and estates in England and Wales.

“Although a law degree wasn’t something I’d considered, Vincents demonstrated the routes available for me to specialise in a particular area of the law,” said Amy. “I’ve been working in the probate team for almost seven years dealing with Wills, estates, capital gains and inheritance tax, and wanted to specialise in this area. I’ve had the best of both worlds by learning while working and doing courses to deepen my technical skills and knowledge.

“I’m really proud that I have achieved what I set out to do, even though at times it was very hard. It has taught me a lot which I now brought into practise within my probate work. I’ve chosen to continue training with the Level 6 addition to better my knowledge and service to my clients which will also give me the title ‘Commissioner of Oaths.’”

Amy applied for a job as a receptionist at Vincents’ Knott End branch in 2014 age 21 following two years in the civil service and previous experience as a care worker. “I really enjoyed working on reception and assisting with administration, and began a qualification in conveyancing with a view to working in the residential homebuying team,” said Amy.

“I soon realised I preferred the Private Client side as I like helping with the elderly clients, particularly on Lasting Power of Attorney work, which suited my previous experience as a care worker and my A Level in Health and Social Care, so have continued in this department.

“The law aspect of the qualifications was very difficult I can’t deny, but doing the job every day and working alongside experienced solicitors and other Private Client specialists really helped and I’m now able to bring my qualification and knowledge into practise.

“I feel very lucky that Vincents noticed the potential in me and backed my ambitions with practical support, time and funding. My colleagues have been fantastic and I want to thank Virginia Webster, my assistant in the probate team, probate lead Donna Matthews, probate solicitor Dan Pinder, our director Lisa Lodge and previous boss Chris Mathews, and the accounts department for all their help.

“I think if anyone has an interest in a particular area of the law, like Private Client work or Conveyancing, take a look at this route. This approach allows you to focus one field and become highly specialised, and spend your career helping people.”

Director Lisa Lodge, head of the private client department, said: “I’m thrilled Amy has achieved this goal and am very proud of her progression through the company. Becoming a qualified Probate Practitioner is the culmination of many years’ hard work and reflects the fantastic job she does for our clients every day as a professional but friendly face helping people with complex issues at often difficult times. I know she is keen to progress further and we will continue to support that ambition.”

As one of the senior solicitors who trains and mentors junior staff within her department, Lisa is keen to promote all routes into the legal profession.

“I have worked with many excellent legal practitioners who are not solicitors and have come into the law without an undergraduate law degree. There are lots of reasons why that path may not suit someone, but their future could still be in the legal profession.

“The Law Society is continuing to increase the alternatives with apprenticeships and on-the-job training options. We are keen to offer opportunities and recruit people into the business who want to make the most of those routes. I believe the company and then wider profession benefit enormously from having people with a variety of backgrounds, work and life experience supporting our clients.”

To find out more about the opportunities available at Vincents Solicitors call 01772 555 176 and ask for Lisa Lodge.