Firms with eye on services market take trainee route

A number of firms are preparing to train young solicitors to deal with financial services. Trainees at Barr Ellison, Buckle Mellows and Cunningham John are sitting financial services exams to tie in with their qualification as solicitors in September.

Rosa Gunston, of Barr Ellison, will head a new department called investment and financial planning when she qualifies. It will be under the auspices of private client and compliance partner William Bellamy.

Bellamy said the firm had experimented with mortgage work some time ago. However, this was discontinued due to the recession. The firm was now interested in the link between financial services and private client work as it had a large private client department and the profession's monopoly on probate was about to disappear.

"We have an increasing number of trusts and probates which are productive in terms of financial advice, and a strong tax department with ex-revenue consultants," Bellamy said.

Duncan Jackson, of Buckle Mellows, will join the firm's financial services department when he qualifies in September. "I was interested in doing it for a number of reasons," he said. "It is a growth area and advising on legal and financial aspects go well together."

He added: "I don't want to be a salesman – I want to be a better solicitor. General practitioners are dying a death, but I think you have to be a gentleman of affairs."

He said that part of his remit as a solicitor was to "educate and bridge the gap between the rest of the firm and financial services". His work would not be entirely financial services or law, but a mixture of the two.

Kevin Willis, of Cunningham John, said as yet his firm had no plans to set up a financial services department, but that it was interested in the area.