January 23, 2023
Harriet Lucas, an associate in Charles Russell Speechlys Corporate Team, discusses how a regional office is the best of both worlds. Harriet undertook her training contract in the Cheltenham office, with seats in Private Property, Employment, Corporate and Commercial Dispute Resolution, before qualifying into the Cheltenham Corporate team.

Why did you choose the Cheltenham office?

I chose to apply to Cheltenham because I am originally from the west country.  Being in Cheltenham put me closer to my family and friends, while training at Charles Russell Speechlys gave me the ability to work at a city firm and do city work.  For me being able to do work of that calibre but not have to live in London was absolutely a draw.

The culture in Cheltenham is very inclusive.  The fact that it’s a smaller office means you get to know everyone in the building and work across departments with ease. Having spoken to some of my fellow trainees and NQs in the Guildford office, I know this is true for them too.  So when it was time to apply for Newly Qualified roles I chose to stay in Cheltenham and qualify in the regional office.  I enjoyed the people I work with and being able to socialise across the office.  

There is an idea that the work in regional offices is second tier?

I didn’t find this to be true. At Charles Russell Speechlys we are really one team in multiple places.  The work is across the offices.  For example, when I sat in Commercial Dispute Resolution there was a monthly meeting about capacity and everyone was on the call – London, Guildford and Cheltenham.  The capacity meeting would distribute work across the offices and this decision was made on individual capacity. 

To speak to the quality of the work, in my final seat I was able to work on the Gregg’s trial in the Gregg’s v Zurich Covid 19 case.  That work is coming out of Cheltenham but also involves people across the other offices.  At the end of the day, we have a Corporate team here in Cheltenham that is a part of a wider Corporate team at the firm.  Our clients are varied and international which might be unexpected for a regional office but not for Charles Russell Speechlys.

Are the partners in regional offices approachable?

Absolutely.  In fact, over the course of my training contract most of my supervisors were partners. I can say they are all really open to chat through a question a trainee might have about the work.  They are all so keen to help trainees learn and develop, they trust trainees with a lot of responsibility.

I’ll admit that approaching partners was initially daunting but the smaller team size means you are mingling with people across all departments frequently.  I ended up meeting most of the partners before I ended up working with them.  This familiarity made approaching them a lot easier.  They also helped manage my capacity and my workload, I can genuinely say they wanted me to be quite open with them.

What is the social life like at a regional office?

We have office socials roughly every month, a few weeks ago we had an office summer party which was a game of rounders and a BBQ, which I believe they do in Guildford too.  It got very competitive some of us even changed into sports kit for the occasion.  It was taken quite seriously but honestly it was just really good fun.

At our Cheltenham office socials we have table tennis in the penthouse. It is one of my favourite things about working here.  Generally, there is quite a lot on from bake sales to a jubilee themed events where we had some arts and crafts to make crowns. We also get the chance to see our colleagues in London and Guildford at various training and networking events too, so we get the best of both worlds. 

Advice to interested candidates

If this sounds like the kind of environment you are interested in, have a look at our Placement Scheme and Training Contract opportunities in our Cheltenham and Guildford offices.  We recruit from both Placement Schemes and through the Direct to Training Contract route.  Do have a think about why you are applying for that particular office, so you are able to demonstrate some thought has gone into your decision.  Good luck!


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