28 October 2016

By solicitor Samantha Howell

When I decided that I wanted to train to be a solicitor, I never thought about pensions as a potential seat choice, let alone a qualification option. That being said, I have recently qualified as a pensions lawyer and here's why…

1. Variety and challenge

Sitting with the pensions team you are exposed to a wide range of interesting and challenging work for high calibre clients. The variety of work available includes a mixture of advisory, transactional and contentious work, so you don't find yourself doing the same tasks over and over again – far from it!

If you enjoy technical law, pensions is a great option as there is a lot of fast-evolving black letter law, as well as regulatory and industry-specific guidance.

2. Commercial, but personal

Despite being technical, the work the team does has a strong commercial edge. On a day-to-day basis, we advise companies and pension trustees on legal issues relating to schemes worth millions – sometimes billions – of pounds. We are tasked with providing pragmatic, commercial solutions to technical difficulties that arise.

There is, however, also a personal side to our work, particularly when advising trustees in relation to individual member queries. In this context, the advice we give really can have an impact on real people's lives.

3. A great team

In addition to the above, you also get to be part of a great team who are known for being particularly friendly and approachable.

The pensions team at Burges Salmon has eight partners (including one pensions disputes partner who sits with the dispute resolution team) and approximately 35 fee earners in total, including four or five trainees at any one time. Based on the number of fee earners, the team is the fifth largest pensions practice in the UK. Based on our client base, we are the fourth largest.

The team is genuinely non-hierarchal and inclusive and encourages anyone sat in the team to get involved in work, social and networking opportunities, irrespective of their level. The senior lawyers are generous with their time and it is great to be able to learn from leaders in their field.

So please remember not to judge a book by its cover. Pensions may not sound like the most interesting and glamorous area of law, but everyone who has sat in the department ends up really enjoying their four month stint. Who knows, perhaps you will decide that four months is simply not long enough too!

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Why I qualified as a pensions lawyer

We advise companies and pension trustees on legal issues relating to schemes worth millions – sometimes billions – of pounds.
Samantha Howell, Solicitor

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