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A Day in the Life of a Trainee Solicitor at Ridley & Hall

by Ridley & Hall in Newsletter, Sophie Aldridge posted February 26, 2024.
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My name is Sophie Aldridge and I have been a trainee solicitor at Ridley & Hall for 7 months. I completed my Undergraduate Degree in Criminology, Criminal Justice and Law, in 2020. I subsequently completed my Graduate Diploma in Law in 2022, before starting my Legal Practice Course and Masters, which I will complete in July 2024.

In order to qualify as a Solicitor, I must undertake a two year ‘Training Contract’, allowing me to develop my practical legal skills and bridge the gap between academic study and the Law in practice. I have been lucky enough to begin my Training Contract whilst still studying and Ridley & Hall have been extremely supportive of my study commitments, but this does not come without its challenges!

The first ‘seat’ of my Training Contract began in July 2023 within the Private Client Team at the Huddersfield office. I had already been a part of this team as a Paralegal, based at the South Elmsall office, for 18 months. This meant that I already had a great understanding of wills and probate, making the transition into the Trainee Solicitor role uncomplicated. However, in January 2024, I moved into the Child Care and Public Law Team, basing my time between our South Elmsall office, Huddersfield office and Barnsley office.

The work I complete in this new department is vastly different from the work I completed in my previous 2 years with Ridley & Hall. However, it has already proved to be an exciting experience! I believe it has tested my ability to adapt and develop new skills, but it has also allowed me to meet and build connections with different colleagues across the business.

In my new role, I have already spent a fair amount of time in Family Court. In this blog I will share an example day, in which I had been asked to attend Court.


Arrive in Leeds. Often the hearings in Court may not begin until 9:30/10am, however, I love to go and sit in the ‘Advocates Room’ before this. Usually, the advocates (barristers/solicitors) are sat in here before the hearing and are discussing the case. They use this time to have a general discussion and to determine the important issues that may arise during the hearing. It is important to determine if any issues are disputed by any parties and how all parties may minimise disputes and potential delays to the court timetable. As someone new to Public Law and to the court room, I find these discussions fascinating and really insightful!


Prior to a court hearing taking place, the solicitors and barristers representing the parties usually have pre-hearing discussions with each of their respective clients. They will discuss any outstanding facts that need to be addressed and any updates for the clients to be aware of. I attend such discussions with our instructed barrister to gain a better understanding of our client’s position on any issues arisen during the mornings discussions.


The hearing is due to start, however the Judge has requested extra time to read and understand the vast court bundle that she had only been provided that same morning. The Judge has requested to start the hearing at 11am.

During this time, I check through my emails and ensure the instructing solicitor is kept updated.


I attend the hearing with our instructed barrister. The purpose of this hearing was to address any issues that may be unresolved/disputed. If all issues were agreed, the care proceedings may be concluded early. However, if not possible, the court aim to narrow disputes for the Judge to determine during the final hearing. The Court heard from each party as to their respective positions on the issues at hand.

I sit at the back of the court room in order to take notes and help the client, should they have any queries. I also ensure that these notes are stored on our file and are sent directly to the instructed solicitor by way of an update.


I leave the court room, intending to grab some lunch and then return for a different hearing at 2pm. However, when switching my phone back on, I notice a message from my Team Leader that this afternoon’s hearing has been moved to a remote hearing. Our client and translator are therefore travelling to the Huddersfield office to attend both the pre-hearing discussions and the hearing.

I jump in my car and head over to the Huddersfield office. This is an example of how unpredictable a day in the department can be. However, I love to be kept on my toes!


I take my lunch break and head out with a colleague for a stroll around Huddersfield. We do a little bit of shopping and grab something to eat.


After lunch, I take some time to read through the file in preparation for this afternoon’s hearing. I wanted to obtain a better understanding of any issues, should I be required to assist either the client, translator or barrister in anyway.

I have also been tasked with some legal research. I spend some time researching the law surrounding the co-existence of Care Orders, together with Special Guardianship Orders. I use databases such as Lexis Nexis +, Westlaw and Legislation to gain an understanding on the law, any previous case summaries and judgments. I then use this to create an overview for the solicitor managing the matter.


A colleague of mine has booked a meeting room so that the clients have a private space to attend the hearing. However, I am required to set up the IT and sit with the client and translator, should they need any support.

After a few issues with a reluctant computer, I attend the pre-hearing discussions with the client, translator, and the barrister (attending over Teams). We discuss the key issues that may be raised in the hearing.


I attend the hearing with the client, translator, and the barrister. The purpose of this hearing is for the Judge to determine whether a psychiatric assessment is required for our client, before the final hearing can take place. The Court heard from each party as to their respective client positions on the matter.


I take some time to type up my notes from the hearing, having used my laptop to display the clients image during the hearing. I save these notes to the file, as well as sending them directly to the instructing solicitor as an update. I also detail further actions that were requested of them, by both the Judge and the instructed barrister during the hearing. I offer my support with any of these matters, should this be useful.


I use the last half an hour of my day to update my Training Contract Record with my activities from the day. This is a requirement of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, who provide a list and details of key skills that Trainee Solicitors must or may develop during their time training. It is therefore highly important that I keep a log of the work I have completed, and how this attributes to the key skills. In order to ensure that I complete this to the best of my ability, I already keep weekly ‘To Do’ lists which help me to manage my workload, but also to review my progress and reflect on my learning.


My working day comes to an end, and I head home.

As I am still studying for my Legal Practice Course and Masters, I spend my evening revising for my upcoming Advocacy exam…and the day’s experiences in court definitely help me with this!

Whilst studying and working full time can be difficult, the work I complete as a Trainee Solicitor can often be useful for understanding the practical application of my academic study. The increased responsibility can sometimes be stressful, however I am extremely grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to develop my knowledge and skills, whilst being supported by experienced and fantastic colleagues.

Sophie Aldridge

Sophie Aldridge – Trainee Solicitor




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