Nina Stevens, trainee in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, private client team.

From philosophy undergrad to search and rescue responder—my unique journey into a legal career

Nina Stevens, trainee in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, private client team.
Nina Stevens
2 min Read

First-seat trainee Nina Stevens reflects on her unconventional journey into law and the impactful world of private client work at Russell-Cooke.

Diverse beginnings

My route to law hasn’t been particularly direct. From a philosophy undergraduate degree, working in a search and rescue and emergency response NGO in Greece, setting up my own community interest company, and a brief stint working in investigations, it hasn’t always been clear to me that law was where I would end up. It is Russell-Cooke’s breadth of expertise, without compromising its depth that showed me there was place in law where I could express my diversity of interests. 

boat on rock in Greece and vulnteers in high vis clothing. Nina Stevens former search and rescue in Greece Russell-Cooke solicitors news 2023
Trainee Nina Stevens working in a search and rescue and emergency response NGO in Greece

Unexpected journey in private client  

My first seat in private client was not my choice, but has held much of what originally drew me to law; variety, teamwork, and a direct, measurable, and obviously positive impact on your client’s life. My time working and volunteering in NGOs in Greece showed me how important a legal skillset is for helping people, whether that be in their immigration status, housing issues, or employment, and this is something I knew I wanted to keep in my legal career. Private client has much of that same feeling. 

Initially, I was quite worried that most of the work would be tax (the thought of which brings up some terrible memories from my time on the LPC) but the variety of work that private client encompasses means that I haven’t been too bogged down in the numbers. The day-to-day includes applying for probate, helping draft wills, and sometimes complex cross-border work due to the expertise in Russell-Cooke’s team. There a high level of client interaction too. You’re almost constantly in dialogue with the individuals you’re working with, which means that you build a true connection with your clients. Sometimes it means you meet some super interesting people too, with fascinating stories and complex legal issues! 

Boats on the beach in greece. Nina Stevens former search and resue in Greece Russell-Cooke solicitors news 2023
While volunteering in a search and rescue emergency response NGO in Greece

Navigating sensitive terrain 

What has stood out to me the most in my first three weeks here is how important private client work is, as it helps people navigate what is often a deeply upsetting and confusing time. A lot of the private client work I have been exposed to is around end of life care, death, and estate planning. These can be difficult topics that require huge amounts of tact and empathy. Building up a skillset that helps a client make sense of the practicalities that surround these topics can alleviate some of the pressure on them, and places private client lawyers in a unique position to guide their clients through what are often incredibly difficult personal decisions.  

Fundamentally, what I have enjoyed most about private client work is the feeling that you and your client are truly a team working towards a shared goal; you want to help them, and they want to help you help them. What that creates is a wonderful feeling of partnership, leaving no doubt that when you leave the office, you’ve made someone’s life easier even if in a small way.

Applications for the 2026 Russell-Cooke graduate training are open from  16 November 2023 until 16 February 2024. 

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