Team Story – Tiffany Shoesmith

The level of responsibility given at Butcher & Barlow was evident right from the start. I was entrusted with responsibilities earlier in my career. It really helps you build confidence.

Q: What’s your name and what team do you work in?

A: I’m Tiffany Shoesmith, and I’m a Family Solicitor based at the Prestwich office. My work primarily involves handling private family matters, such as divorce, finances, and children matters.

Q: Could you describe what a typical day might look like for you?

A: Typically, I start my day by reviewing what needs to be done, making a to-do list, and checking my emails for any urgent matters. The rest of the day usually consists of meetings with clients, either to take new instructions or to discuss ongoing cases. I spend time drafting various documents, including those for court applications. Depending on the day, I might also attend conferences with counsel or court hearings.

Q: Did you always want to specialise in Family Law, and how did that come about?

A: I had a strong interest in Family Law during my academic studies. I was drawn to the personal aspects of law rather than commercial or property matters. It’s the people-oriented nature of Family Law that appealed to me. When I joined Butcher & Barlow, I was given the opportunity to work in the Family Department during my Paralegal year, and I loved it. That solidified my interest in this area of law.

Q: What is it that you most enjoy about your job?

A: I find the personal side of Family Law very rewarding. Being able to connect with clients, understand their unique situations, and make a difference in their lives is what I enjoy the most. It feels like the work we do has a real impact on individuals and families.

Q: Did you complete your training at Butcher & Barlow as well?

A: Yes, I started as a Paralegal for a year and then went on to complete my Training Contract, which lasted just under two years. Following my LPC, I was lucky enough to be offered a contract at Butcher & Barlow, and I’ve remained here ever since.

Q: How have you found the Firm compared to others, especially in terms of the level of responsibility you’ve been entrusted with?

A: The level of responsibility given at Butcher & Barlow was evident right from the start, which I found quite different from other firms I’d worked at. Compared to other firms I was entrusted with responsibilities earlier in my career than they were. Here, we are trusted to manage our workload and are given the freedom to seek assistance when needed. It really helps you build confidence.

Q: Do you think there are specific skills or attributes needed for a career in law?

A: In Family Law, the ability to connect with people, show empathy, and understand the emotional aspects of our clients’ lives is crucial. Understand that to us, the case may just be one thing in the list of many that we’re dealing with that day, but to them, it’s possibly the biggest thing they’ve gone through. It’s also important to be able to switch off from work-related stress and maintain a separation between work and personal life. You may sometimes have to hear and deal with some terrible things, but you have to remain professional and learn to leave it behind at the end of the day. You also have to be efficient, well-organised, and be willing to seek help when needed.

Q: How important is work-life balance to you, and how does Butcher & Barlow support it?

A: Work-life balance is important to me, and it can be challenging, especially with remote working. There’s a tendency to start work much earlier and finish later if you’ve not got that commute at the start and end of the day. But I do enjoy being in the office too. I like the social element of coming in and seeing people. Butcher & Barlow offers flexibility, which helps in maintaining that balance. While some weeks may require longer hours, say when all your deadlines seem to come at the same time, they are balanced out by quieter weeks.

We also get a day off on our birthday which is great, and we have regular payday lunch, when we’re all together. We actually will take a break and have a chat and catch up, it’s really nice. It gives an opportunity for the whole office to just sit together and chat and gives us time to just stop work for half an hour or so. Little perks like this make you feel valued too, and I think everyone appreciates it.

Q: How do you feel about the support and career progression opportunities at Butcher & Barlow?

A: I received excellent training at Butcher & Barlow. The structured training program with definite dates for seat changes was really helpful and allowed me to experience different areas of law. In terms of career progression, many Partners at the Firm started as Trainee Solicitors, so I can see clear paths for progression here.

Q: Do you think the fact that many Partners and staff at Butcher & Barlow started as trainees is appealing to those considering joining the Firm?

A: Absolutely. When I was applying for training contracts, I noticed that many Partners had started as trainees. I was thinking, wow, they want to stay, it must be a good place to work if people have wanted to stay that long. It really appealed to me, and it’s probably one of the reasons that I applied to the Firm. It speaks to the Firm’s culture and the opportunities for growth and development it offers.

Q: Can you tell us about the collaboration at Butcher & Barlow? How beneficial do you feel it is?

A: Collaboration is key at Butcher & Barlow. Internally, we often seek advice and assistance from colleagues with different specialisations or in different offices. It really helps us provide comprehensive support to our clients. In family law, for example, we often work closely with conveyancing and wills and probate departments, providing clients with a holistic legal service. Knowing that I can seek advice and assistance in the areas that aren’t my specialism is reassuring.

Q: Did you always want to be a Solicitor, and what advice would you give to those considering law as a career?

A: I found my Year 6 leaving book from primary school recently, and I’d written that I wanted to be a Lawyer one day. It turns out, I’m living the life I once dreamed of. My advice to those considering law as a career is not to stress too much about rejections. I spent too much time worrying. What if I don’t get a training contract? What if a firm doesn’t want to train me? Just keep working at it and someone will take that chance on you. Looking back, I’m so pleased I had those rejections because I think I’m much better suited to a firm like this than some of the ones I was applying for, and I think there’s that misconception, like getting a training contract is everything, but it’s getting the right training contract that matters. I was desperate to get any contract. I wasted a lot of that time applying to firms that I know I wouldn’t have really enjoyed. So I think if I could go back and speak to my younger self, it would be to focus on the ones that you actually want to work at, that’s much more important.

Q: Are there any standout moments in your career that you’re particularly proud of?

A: Early in my career, I had the opportunity to be involved in a reported case, which was a significant accomplishment if a little stressful at points! With guidance from colleagues, I made a significant contribution to the case, and it was a great learning experience for me so early in my career.

Q: What are your career ambitions for the future?

A: I qualified just over a year, so I still feel like it’s very early in my career, but I suppose career goals I just want to keep on going.  I want to do more advocacy, so more court work to get more experience and just continue to progress within the Family Law area.

My three words to describe Butcher & Barlow: supportive, growth and welcoming.