We think it’s important that our consumers get to know our legal teams, therefore we only felt it right that our team and readers get to know a little bit more about our recent recruit, Ashleigh Woodward, who joined the Howells Cardiff office about a month ago.
Hopefully, this will give you an insight into the life of a Howells family solicitor and, for those of you wondering about maybe becoming a solicitor yourself or eventually practicing, what made her take the climb into the world of law.
Take it away Ashleigh…
When I first became aware of the position at Howells, I knew it would be the right career move for me as a newly qualified solicitor. When I met with Mark Hobbs (our Managing Director), I felt immediately at ease and was confident that the exposure and support that I would get at such a critical stage in my career would be exceptional.
How do you get to work?
I get the train to commute from Newport to Cardiff Queen Street each day. Even though I used to work closer to home, I love working at the heart of the city.
Travelling with every other commuter in the morning and being so close to the city centre where a lot of my university friends and old work colleagues are based, gives me a sense that I truly belong in the Capital City of Wales.
I also love having the opportunity to walk into town and having a quick look in the shops at lunch time too!
What is your morning routine like?
My morning ritual is to make a cup of coffee and have a look at my diary to see what I have planned for the day. As cliché as this sounds, I always have a quick read of Family Law Week to keep me up-to-date with the ever-changing and the latest developments of law.
If I have time whilst commuting, I’ll also have a little browse on Instagram and Pinterest to look for any interior design ideas that I can use in my new home.
What have you enjoyed about the job so far?
I really have enjoyed getting to know the team within the family department. Everyone has been extremely helpful and supportive. I have also enjoyed meeting new clients and look forward to building up and further developing my client base.
I love that Howells are involved in providing legal assistance to women who are supported by Women’s Aid. I have already had the chance to attend a Cardiff Women’s Aid Clinic; this gave me the opportunity to provide initial advice to women in respect of divorce, finances, children and domestic violence.
What do you look forward to?
Primarily, I look forward to developing my skills alongside a successful and supportive team. I also hope to become an accredited member of Resolution. I strongly believe in approaching family issues in a constructive way that considers the needs of the whole family, in particular the best interests of children.
What is your end goal when it comes to clients?
I aim to give clients a truly professional, yet personable service to make the client feel comfortable and at ease at a potentially upsetting time. My goal is to deliver a service at the highest quality to reach an agreement and obtain an outcome that is in the best interests of my client.
I really believe in approaching matters in a sensitive, constructive and cost-effective way which will hopefully result in the client walking away pleased with the service that they have received.
What are the achievements you are most proud of, so far?
I am really proud of the fact I could muster up the courage to complete a Skydive to raise money for Velindre Cancer Centre, which is a charity close to my heart. I did question why I had agreed to do it when I was sitting on the edge of the aircraft at 12,000 feet, but the adrenalin rush and views of Swansea were amazing, so it was definitely worth it!
I am also proud to say I have volunteered for Headway (a brain injury charity) at my previous workplace. It’s such a fantastic charity! I attended a social group for a few hours every fortnight where I would take part in activities such as arts and crafts, quizzes and games with individuals who had suffered brain injury. It was lovely to see the positive impact on all involved.
Obviously, I am also proud of the fact I get to practise my dream job every single day.
Why did you become a solicitor?
I think I first knew when I was an A Level student. I was one of the lucky ones in that I knew what I wanted to do at such a young age. During my A Levels, I was exposed to law through curricular and extra-curricular studies and activities. I got an insight into human rights and immigration during the Welsh Baccalaureate, which really inspired me to consider this career path.
I quickly came to realise that I was keen to help people solve problems, whether they were personal or professional, like an agony aunt but on a broader scale! I thought I could link all my interests and enjoyments by studying the law.
I didn’t realise how much that the law affects every part of our lives and thought that a career in law would be an exceptional remedy that would allow me to do what I love. I really do enjoy meeting and talking to people and being a family solicitor gives me the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, as well as being simultaneously challenged on an intellectual level.
What’s your advice for those thinking about a career in law?
For those who are considering a career as a solicitor, there is no denying that it is a long and difficult road to reach qualification, but honestly it is an extremely rewarding career that I feel rewarded with every day. It is most definitely worth the blood, sweat and tears (well, more just the sweat and tears…).
My key piece of advice would be to try and get as much experience working in the legal industry as possible, whether that is through work experience or as a legal assistant/paralegal. The skills and experience that you will gain at an early stage will be crucial when moving forward to the next steps in your career.
In all honesty, I feel like I belong at Howells. I feel I mirror the ambition and dynamic aspects of the firm and we both have really impressive plans for future growth. I am so excited to be a part of the family department at this crucial time.
Get to Know the Howells Team
If you would like to learn more about Ashleigh, or get to know more of the Howells team, please view the Our People section of our site. Alternatively, discover the latest happenings from Howells in our company news.