Meet Michelle Footer, Partner – Head of Real Estate Disputes

Where did your career journey start?

I started out as a Law & Business undergraduate at the University of Warwick and haven’t looked back since.

After completing my undergraduate degree, the Legal Practice Course and an LLM in Professional Legal Practice, I began my career in the workplace. Fifteen years later I’m now Head of our Real Estate Disputes team. My passion for property law is borne out of my academic studies. I particularly enjoy working on contested Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 commercial lease renewals and adverse possession claims as these are areas which I studied in depth in my Masters degree.

A career highlight was when I successfully worked with a landlord to clear a high value office block needed for the Olympics, of tenants on different lease and licence arrangements.

Why Bolt Burdon

I was drawn to the energy and enthusiasm at Bolt Burdon. It was palpable in the recruitment process and that was exciting.

Having spent the first six years of my career in a more traditional environment, Bolt Burdon offered opportunity, flexibility and a defined career path. The route from solicitor to partner is clear but comes with no fixed timescale. I’ve been encouraged and supported all the way, working compressed hours to juggle my career and family life has allowed me to make the transition in my own time. It’s refreshing.

Life at Bolt Burdon

Almost ten years later, Bolt Burdon remains a modern, dynamic and flexible workplace. We were way ahead of the curve in our approach to flexible working, so we’ve built a trusting environment – everyone is judged on their output.

And our flexible way of working applies to everyone, not just working parents. Everyone has the opportunity for a balanced and rewarding approach to their career, and is fully supported in developing new skills along the way. Whether it’s speaking at events, building a network or firmwide marketing initiatives, nothing is off limits.

But without a doubt, what makes Bolt Burdon is the people. It sounds cliché but everyone is friendly and welcoming, and most importantly, approachable. In fact, the Real Estate Disputes team recently organised a ‘Bolt Burdon has Got Talent’ night, as a bit of fun for the whole firm. There’s no-one that I can’t pick up the phone to for advice and support. It’s genuinely a one team culture.

Future plans

It’s an exciting time for the Real Estate Disputes team – we’ve got big plans.

Over the next few years we’re aiming for sustainable growth, both in terms of the team size and types of work. Whether it’s, increasing our volume of possession work, breach of lease work, professional negligence work, or commercial lease renewal work, we want to foster a closer dialogue between agents, surveyors, and solicitors involved. We’re also looking to work with developers prior to their purchase, advising them of any risks they may be subject to.

We want to be the first-choice law firm for small to medium size operators. Watch this space!


From transport and logistics to licensed conveyancer, Ella Wright gives us an overview of her route into law and how she came to join Bolt Burdon.

Where did your journey start?

Believe it or not – in hairdressing! That wasn’t for me and after a two year spell within transport and logistics I ended up in a long term sales role for a plastics engineering company (I hear you groan!)  Not very challenging, but it kept me busy.  It wasn’t until I bought a new home and was at the mercy of some very slow conveyancing, where it just dragged, that I thought – ‘I can do this’ – and do you know what?  I can! It took a little research and a lot of hard work (which I loved) to become a Licensed Conveyancer. I discovered that I didn’t need a degree in law and could just focus on an area I was interested in, being property. I signed up to a distance learning course and studied alongside work.  But, because I was so dedicated and genuinely interested in the subject matter, I applied myself way more than I ever had at school and found I did rather well!

How did you find your way to Bolt Burdon?

I applied for lots of jobs, securing one in a pretty sole-destroying role – but it enabled me to position my foot on the law ladder.  After moving to a another firm, offering a more challenging role but with little support or progression opportunities, a paralegal vacancy came up at Bolt Burdon. I’d previously worked with Melanie Carroll (head of Residential Real Estate), so decided to apply. It was small step backwards temporarily but it was the right move for me, and I’ve not looked back.

How has Bolt Burdon supported your career path?

Everyone at Bolt Burdon is supportive and helpful – from the top down, I have received help and advice, supporting me through my final exams.  There isn’t anyone who won’t help. I have learnt so much, surrounded by team members ready to mentor etc.

What were the highs and lows of your journey?

I’ve mentioned my less than satisfactory positions and what seemed like an era of extra study, but my biggest high must be passing my final modules in a lockdown.  Being watched via webcam wasn’t the most relaxing of exam conditions, but I was so determined to qualify, a little problem like a pandemic wasn’t going to stop me!

What attracted you to Bolt Burdon?

Bolt Burdon is all about people and it was the people that attracted me to the firm.   Firstly, my team leader Melanie, but also the openness and values driven approach of the whole firm.

How would you describe life with Bolt Burdon? 

All round brilliant! We are goal driven and everyone works exceptionally hard, yet we’re a solid team, supportive on every level, as well as flexible and incredibly social.



“Ella is a joy to work with, her diligence and determination to succeed has helped her carve her own route into law and I am pleased to have her on my team!”

Partner, Melanie Carroll, Residential Real Estate team leader.

From graduate to solicitor, Olivia Pisapia has been with Bolt Burdon for four years, and tells us about her career path to date.

Where did your journey start?

Having graduated in law, I was not entirely sure if law was in fact the career for me. I had tasted life in practice, with numerous law firms as part of my degree and unlike my friends, didn’t seek to secure myself a training contract for when I finished. The ideal scenario at the time, was to gain experience with a firm whilst a student and smoothly transitioning into a graduate role on completion. I took a slightly rockier route, temping as a PA, handling PPI for a bank before realising that law was where I wanted to be.

How did you find your way Bolt Burdon?

I took a job within a volume conveyancing firm as a case handler, which wasn’t really what I was aspiring to (it was very process driven, handling 100’s of cases a week), but it was a start. I began my LPC, which I was having to fit into the weekend and started to look for a paralegal job.

On seeing a role advertised with Bolt Burdon, I was excited by the apparent vibe the website exuded. With very little experience in law and certainly in property litigation, I applied for a paralegal role, filled with doubt about my chances of success. But I was thrilled to be taken on and haven’t looked back ever since.

How has Bolt Burdon supported your career path?

Bolt Burdon is particularly supportive and keen to progress its people internally and I secured my training contract with them after two years.  As a firm, they are very flexible in their approach, enabling team members to manage their training requirements alongside workloads.  Always supportive, nurturing and mentoring you through the process. I am delighted to be starting my first position as a qualified solicitor in the Disputed Wills and Trusts team.

What were the highs and lows of your journey?

With law, like many careers, there is the constant issue of experience – you need experience to get a job, but without experience you can’t get the role to give you experience. It appears to be a never-ending cycle, until you finally get your break.

What attracted you to Bolt Burdon?

Bolt Burdon portrays itself as a flexible, forward-thinking and progressive firm – which, after interview and now four years in situ, I can confirm is every bit the case!

How would you describe life with Bolt Burdon? 

Dynamic, hard work, but great fun. It is a firm which lives by its values, dedicated to delivering results and creating an environment where its people and clients can thrive. Everyone has a different story, background, and expertise, but we are all dedicated to doing a great job.  I’d say it’s a people based firm, not paper based and I’m very happy on the Bolt Burdon team.



“Olivia recently finalised her training contract to become a fully qualified solicitor and we are pleased to have supported her on her journey – she will be an asset to our team.”

Natasha McKeever, partner and head of Disputed Wills and Trusts.

From retail to law, Chartered Legal Executive, Matt Hawkins, explains how he carved his route into Bolt Burdon.

Where did your journey start?

With no firm career in mind, I took law A’level (quite simply for the reasoning, case presentation and history elements rather than ‘law’) and after 5 years, in retail, learning the ropes, I decided something needed to change. With a more mature and focused mind, I revisited that A’level and decided that a recognised profession was what I was after.

How did you find your way to Bolt Burdon?

Knowing I wanted to work in law, I secured myself a job in IT services, providing support to Bolt Burdon. This soon led to a support clerk role on reception before taking the step into legal, within the residential conveyancing team, while working towards my Chartered Legal Executive qualifications.

How has Bolt Burdon supported your career path?

Bolt Burdon has helped and encouraged me throughout my career and my work-based learning. They offered me flexibility with regards hours and study leave and spent time with me to complete my work-book submissions.

What were the highs and lows of your journey?

This route was certainly not the easiest path into law (not that there is an easy one), with the work/study-life balance tough to manage. I seemed to be endlessly studying alongside work, but those years have been worth it. I found my vocation – firstly within law and more specifically within the specialist area of Enfranchisement – I have something to get my teeth into on a daily basis.

What attracted you to Bolt Burdon?

Quite simply, it was a law firm which needed IT support!  Knowing what I know now about Bolt Burdon and its guiding principles, I should have been looking for an opportunity to join.

How would you describe life with Bolt Burdon? 

Bolt Burdon is a fun place to work, with a natural openness and no artificial barriers.  It fosters co-operation and on top of this, the parties are fantastic!



“Matt knew where he wanted to go and has made sure he has got there! He has been dedicated to his progression and our team, I have enjoyed working with Matt to gain his accreditation.”

Darren Coleran, partner and head of Enfranchisement and Property Litigation.