Emma Reade, Trainee in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, family and children team.

My decade long journey to qualifying as a solicitor

Emma Reade, Trainee in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, family and children team.
Emma Reade
3 min Read

Third-seat trainee Emma Reade shares her journey to Russell-Cooke, transitioning from eight years in commercial arbitration to embarking on her training contract. Emma reflects on her time in real estate, family, and private client seats, highlighting the unexpected paths that have shaped her experience.

Diverse work backgrounds

There is no single profile when it comes to trainees at Russell-Cooke. For some, it will be their first job out of university, while others will have worked in several roles before joining the firm. I fall in to the latter category, as I worked in commercial arbitration for eight years prior to starting my training contract.

When I finished my master’s degree, I was living in Paris and still unsure as to whether I wanted to pursue a career in law. If I did, I was unsure as to whether it would be in England or in France. I was offered a job at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris and decided to experience working in an international organisation to decide whether it would be the right path for me. I worked there for two years, before moving to London to start a similar job at the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) where I managed commercial arbitration and mediation cases. 

In my roles at the ICC and the LCIA, I had the opportunity to meet and work alongside solicitors, including trainees, who gave me insight into what a career as a solicitor would look like. Although I loved the working environment in both institutions, I wanted to experience working directly with clients. During my legal studies and through some of the arbitration and mediation cases that I worked on, I took an interest in ‘personal’ areas of the law, such as family law and private client law, which I thought might be a good fit for me. With this in mind, I started looking for a training contract at a firm with an excellent reputation in those areas. 

Breadth of practice areas at Russell-Cooke

This led me to apply to Russell-Cooke. The fact that Russell-Cooke has a French team also attracted me, as I was hoping to be able to use and develop my French legal and language skills during my training contract and potentially during my career. 

I am now in my third seat, having sat in real estate, family and private client. All of the seats have exceeded my expectations. The quality of the work and the level of client contact has been excellent, while the friendliness and approachability of my colleagues has been the highlight of my training contract (along with the great work-life balance). 

What I have enjoyed most has been the opportunity to assist clients at a difficult time of their lives and to develop a working relationship with them. I was given opportunities to do this, even over seats of six months. I have found this to be the most rewarding aspect of being a solicitor and I feel like it matches my career ambitions and my personality. 

I feel lucky to have experienced both types of working environments, and even though I took a long and winding road to get to where I am today, I feel content with where it has taken me and excited to find out what the next chapter of my career at Russell-Cooke will look like. 

Applications for the 2026 Russell-Cooke graduate training are open until 16 February 2024

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