In October 2018, PLS Solicitors launched their conveyancing training academy. The Academy was set up to ensure new recruits looking to change their career or pursue a career in law develop the right skills, knowledge and technical competence.
Research from careers advice online shows that the average person will change their career 5-7 times during their working life. This together with the growing need for more conveyancers in the UK inspired PLS’ Make the Change campaign and the Academy – creating an opportunity for ambitious individuals looking for a new start.
In this article we hear from Ellie, one of the Academy’s most recent graduates.
Clearly unsure of which career path to take, Ellie explained, ‘I left school and went straight into a nursery apprenticeship, which I soon changed to hairdressing after 9 months’. Influenced by her cousin’s law degree at Newcastle, Ellie investigated opportunities in the legal area but was put off by how much experience she needed. Ellie then came across the PLS position on indeed.com.
PLS was looking for bright, enthusiastic and personable candidates with little or no experience to train into experienced conveyancing assistants and more. Although no experience was necessary, people who work at PLS should have excellent customer service and communication skills. An area Ellie clearly flourishes in, conveyed through her welcoming, yet professional phone manner during her interview with us.
‘I had never worked in an office before so I had no expectations of what working with PLS would be like.’ However, Ellie said during her interview ‘the team really made me feel at ease, particularly Kayleigh one of the HR Team. The Academy training schedule was obviously well structured and would set me up for the world of conveyancing.’ When Ellie got the job, she knew it was going to be a good place to work, saying ‘I just got that feeling’.
Describing her days in the academy Ellie explained ‘Every day was a different challenge, some days we would work individually on live conveyancing files, and then other days we would work together, asking questions and supporting each other’. This on the job training was governed by the Academy leader who checked everything before any documentation was sent out to clients.
Now in her fifth month at PLS, Ellie is an integral member of the Post Completion team. As a leading conveyancing firm by volume, PLS deals with around 900 transactions per month, so it is important that the team is able to deal with a large number of cases efficiently and accurately.
‘The Academy gave me the confidence to hit the ground running’ says Ellie, ‘Some of the challenges and that documentation I now come across are identical to those I worked on in the Academy. So, I can recognise the little things, like a unilateral notice for example. I think it just gives you more confidence in your abilities.’
Those recruited into the Academy will spend between 3 and 6 months in training, with Ellie’s training schedule lasting 4 months to make sure she was absolutely confident in her abilities. When asked why the Academy vary the timescale, Ellie explained that although everyone makes mistakes, there were no chances for serious mistakes to be made – ‘They wanted to make sure that I could do it, and they knew that I could. It’s great because they make sure that there’s no chance of us making mistakes, and that we are really confident in our work before we get placed in a team’.
PLS has been placing a tremendous amount of emphasis on client delight and excellent client service, implementing innovative training schemes and appointing Karishma, the company’s first Client Services Manager. It seems this focus on the customer experience can be seen in all aspects of the office. When asked how PLS employees seem to be so hard working and efficient with the work they produce, Ellie explained that ‘It’s people’s homes we are dealing with. It’s an emotional and stressful journey isn’t it? So, we have to work hard to make sure the that clients are happy.’
It’s apparent that Ellie enjoys her job as she has already recommended PLS to friends and family. PLS is a great environment for workers of all ages, providing opportunities for progression to everyone. Danielle Woods joined the company in March of 2018 and has progressed rapidly to a Conveyancer and Team Manager, now responsible for an entire team of her own and regularly getting five star reviews. Ellie is keen to follow in these footsteps and progress onto a legal team, ‘I’m always willing to learn new things – eventually I could see myself on a team, or doing extra studying to get myself where I want to be. But I’m enjoying what I’m doing right now. I really enjoy working here.’
‘And everyone in my team is supportive!’. This supportive atmosphere wasn’t specific just to the post completion team, ‘It’s everywhere, there are people from other teams who are all so friendly, they will always make conversation which makes PLS a great place to work.’
This opportunity for growth sits among many other benefits for potential employees like Ellie, who lives just around the corner from the office. The Academy aims to turn new starters into knowledgeable professionals and speaking to Ellie it is clear they are successful. Through a tightly-knit community culture who act as a support net for colleagues, PLS manages to create a working environment that feeds employee’s talents and allows them to grow into forward thinking and conscientious individuals who always put the customers first.