Nikki Bonini, Trainee Solicitor, is about to complete her traineeship with Jones Whyte. She has taken the time to answer a few questions about her journey from a new trainee to NQ Solicitor.
Can you tell us about your legal journey so far?
I started studying Law at Strathclyde University in 2016. Following this, I worked as a Legal Assistant at Jones Whyte in 2019. Initially this role involved working within the Personal Injury team in relation to noise induced hearing loss cases and vehicle emissions cases. Whilst I learned a lot working within this team, I felt that my strengths and interest lay in other areas of Law – most specifically Private Client.
How did you decide on working within the Bereavement Team?
During my final year studying at Strathclyde University, we undertook a Private Client module. I really loved the Private Client class and realised I had found an area of Law that really appealed to me and that I was good at. My friends and family often remind me that around this time I had said to them that I was upset that Jones Whyte didn’t have a Private Client department as that was an area of Law I would have liked to pursue. I was always reminded that Jones Whyte were always looking to expand and maybe one day they would do for Private Client. The next week we received an email from the Managing Partner, Greg Whyte, advising Jones Whyte were opening a Private Client department. This was perfect timing for me as I was just starting my traineeship and so I asked to move to the Private Client department and this is where I have been working within the Bereavement department ever since.
Do you feel you are adequately supported in what can be contentious cases?
As McClure Solicitors had gone into administration, we knew that there was going to be a lot of contentious cases that would require care and attention. The Bereavement department, alongside the other Private Client departments, worked really well together during these first few crucial months and turned a lot of the contentious cases into success stories. Many of the former McClure clients mandated over to Jones Whyte. To ensure the wellbeing of the staff and that our clients were being given the best possible service, the management team made a number of changes to the team which included recruiting additional staff and reviewing processes to make them more efficient.
Now that we are two years on from the acquisition, our team is still expanding due to the growth of the business and this has had a positive impact on the team as a whole. I work with an amazing Administration support team who assist me, and other case handlers, with all our files and great Managers who have invaluable legal knowledge to answer my queries and from whom I can learn. All of this takes a huge burden from us as case handlers. I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two years working within this team. Of course, there have been stressful times but working in a positive environment allows me to really develop my knowledge whilst putting client care at the forefront of the work I carry out.
Do you feel you have a good work/life balance?
Since my first day at Jones Whyte, I have always maintained a great work/life balance. At the start of my traineeship I would sometimes work late as I felt this was what a Trainee Solicitor was meant to do. This was quickly noticed by my manager and I was told this was not something that was required of me and they made sure that my workload was manageable between 9am-5pm. I am now always logged off on time each work day. If we are going through a busy spell then the my manager will look at providing additional resources to help with this increased workload rather than expecting me and other case handlers to work more.
There is also a great social aspect to Jones Whyte which includes quarterly team bonding activities and regular firm nights out. These are all paid for by the firm. The friends I have made while working here will last a lifetime. Going to work when you are surrounded by people who you would call friends makes your job a lot easier.
What do you enjoy most about working within the Bereavement Team?
There are two things that I enjoy most about working within the Bereavement department. Firstly, it is a very fulfilling role. We are able to help families when they have lost a loved one by taking away from them the administrative burden of dealing with their affairs. The clients are always very grateful for this help and it feels rewarding being able to help them. Secondly, I enjoy the working environment. Regardless of how demanding the work gets, having a team who support each other while allowing each person to expand their knowledge by learning from each other takes away that stress. Within the team, we have all become good friends and that has made a really positive working environment.