A day in the Life of a Trainee
Emily Bueno, trainee, Payne Hicks Beach
Departments to date: Dispute Resolution and Private Client
University: Newcastle, Trinity College Dublin, Bristol and Kaplan
9.00: I arrive at the office, make myself a cup of tea and scan the headlines. I often see cases we are working on in the news, as well as clients. I then check my emails and review my to-do list for the day, prioritising more urgent tasks.
9.30: Last night, the Associate who was supervising me gave me some feedback on my draft Deed of Appointment and Trustees’ Resolution for an offshore client of ours. I incorporate her amendments and proofread the documents before sending them to the Partner in charge. I have drafted a number of documents in Private Client, including Wills, Letters of Wishes, a Deed of Appointment of Additional Trustee, Deeds of Exclusion and Trustees’ Resolutions. Being the only trainee in the department, means that you are given lots of substantive work like this.
10.30: I continue with a task I was set yesterday. A client wants to set up a charity, so I am researching what the law requires for an organisation to be recognised as charitable. I collate this research into a Memo, and I start to draft an objective for our client’s proposed charity, so that it will be registered by the Charity Commission. I have been given a number of really interesting research tasks like this in Private Client; I particularly enjoy being asked to research tricky tax points.
12.30: I head out to Fleet Street to buy lunch and get some fresh air. There are lots of places to eat nearby, and when the weather is good Lincoln’s Inn Fields is a great place to go for a stroll and enjoy an al fresco lunch. The firm often has lunchtime seminars on topics related to its practice areas, which I always like to attend. Once a week we have ‘Staff Lunch’ when our brilliant catering team puts on a delicious spread, which is also a nice opportunity to meet fee earners from other departments.
1.30: I return to the Memo, giving it a proofread and then sending it off to the solicitor in charge of running this matter.
2.30: I share a room with a partner, which means that he involves me in a lot of his work. A client of his wants to move all her family trusts to our firm, so I set these up as clients on our system and draft an engagement letter for him to approve.
4.00: Time for a cup of tea and a slice of cake, which someone has kindly brought in. PHB is a really friendly firm and people are always very generous with bringing in baked goodies.
4.15: A potential client has emailed my supervisor explaining her confusion about the statutory residence test. I review the legislation and draft a response to her. The rules are quite complex and the potential client’s personal situation is not entirely clear, so this is tricky to draft.
5.30: I email an Associate about my progress on another matter. This is one of the key things I have learned. I am often juggling a number of tasks, so it is important to prioritise these and keep people updated as to your progress.
6.00: I write my to-do list for tomorrow and check with my supervisor if there is anything I can help with before I head home. I typically leave between 6 – 7 pm, but will of course stay later if I am busy or need to get something urgent done. He tells me to go home, so I head off to a yoga class in nearby Covent Garden.
During their two year training period trainee solicitors usually spend six months in four of the Firm's five specialist departments so that they have experience of a wide-cross section of the Firm's work.
These departments are:
- Private Client
- Company and Commercial (including Employment)
- Dispute Resolution.
As far as possible, the trainee's choice of department is accommodated. They usually sit in the same room as a partner and are involved in the day to day activities of the department to which they are assigned. They attend conferences with clients, counsel and other professional advisers and may be asked to assist in all aspects of the department's work. Since there is usually only one trainee per department at any one time, the trainee plays a very important role.
During each six month period the trainees are given increasing responsibility, depending on their ability and aptitude and they are subject to a continuous period of assessment. A formal appraisal takes place each six months.
The Firm considers the continuing academic learning of its trainees to be extremely important. In addition to the Professional Skills Course, the Firm has a formal training system. As well as an induction course, trainees attend lectures and seminars throughout the two year period on various legal topics.
Trainees are selected from a large number of applicants, so very high standards are set in the selection process. The Firm recruits both law and non-law graduates and also mature students. Although good academic qualifications are essential, (an upper second class degree is a minimum requirement), we are also looking for applicants with personality and enthusiasm.
Trainees need to develop a range of skills to enable them to become a successful solicitor.
All trainee solicitors must complete the Professional Skills Course (PSC) during their training contract and the PSC comprises two sections: Core and Electives. In addition to the PSC, you will attend a general induction to the firm, equipping you with the basic skills you need for the first day in your seat.
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