March 7, 2024

Living and working in Bristol

From my first term of living in Bristol at University back in 2007, driving down the M4 and seeing the city come into view has always felt like coming home. It was no surprise that ten years later, and applying for a Training Contract, I ended up back in the city.  

In this article, I speak to fellow Bristol legal sector migrant, Louise Asprey at St John’s Chambers, to discuss the best things about living and working in Bristol. 

Louise, what made you make the move to a Chambers in Bristol and what do you love about the Bristol legal sector?

I moved from a set in Exeter to St John’s Chambers in Bristol in early 2021.  

As happy as I was in Exeter, I wanted to expand my practice and I recognised the strength of the legal market in Bristol, being a base for law firms, national insurers and charities.  

Bristol attracted me professionally and personally, because it represents the best of both worlds. Professionally, there is a close knit, collegiate legal community and I really enjoy being immersed in this. It’s allowed me to build good working relationships with other members of the Bar and becoming familiar with the local judiciary. There’s no doubt that this ‘local knowledge’ is valuable for my clients too. Bristol has excellent transport links to London, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester which means I can reach much further for cases than I used to. 

I moved down from London for similar (but I suppose opposite!) reasons. I wanted to work in a less disparate legal community and felt that the Bristol legal sector is the perfect size, making it easy to form relationships with barristers, other solicitors and charities.

I am very excited that RWK Goodman are now going to be part of the fabric of the legal sector here and can build on the relationships we already have from our location in Bath. For me, that’s working more closely with the Bristol Coroners Court, the Bristol Inquest Pro Bono Clinic and the Bristol Medico-Legal Society.

What do you like about working in a Bristol-based Chambers like St John’s?

St John’s Chambers attracted me because it’s an exclusively civil set, with a very strong Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence team. Our clerks also recently won the Bristol Law Society ‘Team of the Year’.  

The fact that all of that knowledge is shared through internal training sessions and an open-door policy, allows me to use colleagues as a sounding-board for the trickier cases, which is invaluable. I do the same for them too. It’s that collegiate atmosphere here which makes work so enjoyable. We have monthly drinks and regular social events to get together, which are fun.  

St John’s Chambers also has strong links with the University of West England, the Bristol Junior Lawyers Division, the Bristol Medico-Legal Society, Bristol Young Professionals. There is always a way to give back and get involved.  

And finally, what do you do around the city in your spare time?

Bristol is the perfect city for me personally. Within an hour, I can be on a surfboard, hiking up a hill, on a horse, at the theatre (the Bristol Old Vic is a real gem) or sitting in an excellent restaurant (Adelina Yard, Bravas, the Seven Lucky Gods, the list goes on). My children have adopted the Christmas ferry boat ride as an obligatory tradition, where we pick up Father Christmas and then continue up the river to see SS Great Britain. 

Maybe it’s because there’s so much on offer, but I enjoy an excellent work-life balance in Bristol. Now all I need to do is wait for it to warm up a touch so I can get the paddle board out of hibernation! 

Whilst my favourite haunts at the moment often have to be toddler friendly, that still leaves a lot to explore. I’m often found on walks around the harbourside followed by visits to M-Shed, trips to the RWA and the Bristol Museum, seeing the animals at Windmill Hill City Farm followed by a pastry at Loaf or walks through the woods at Stoke Park, Ashton Court or the Downs. And in the evenings, dinners at Root, Sonny Stores, Lona, or pretty much anywhere – the best thing about Bristol is there always seems to be somewhere new to discover! 

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