What do trainee solicitors do? What are their main responsibilities? These are typical questions the applicants for solicitor training contract have in mind. Depending on your practice group, the kind of agreements or problems you are working on, and how busy the department is, the work a trainee solicitor does vary.
Here is a list of the duties of a trainee solicitor to help you better understand what they do as a trainee and beyond.
This usually results from a question from a client or a strange technological problem that pops up during a transaction. Reading case law, legislation, European law, regulatory directives, or technical notes may be necessary. The results of this research will directly influence how the team responds to the question or addresses the issue. Thus trainees are given a lot of responsibility in this area. Check if your boss wants a one-line response in the next 30 minutes or a comprehensive study report the next week.
Drafting Board or Shareholder Minutes
Nearly all law procedures begin with a board of directors meeting or the firm's shareholders to discuss and approve the necessary activities. Typically, trainees are given the first chance to prepare the minutes by following a predetermined template. Drafting minutes is a great approach to hone your drafting abilities and increase your capacity for lateral thinking about all the difficulties that must be resolved for the transaction to proceed.
Coordinating with Local Counsel
The trainee, working under solicitor training contract, will often be responsible for communicating with local counsel, which involves checking for updates, analysing their documentation, and giving the "go-ahead" for execution. You might be working on a case that involves 78 different jurisdictions, for instance.
Trainees appear at employment fairs at various colleges, which is an excellent justification for leaving the office for the day. Additionally, trainees serve as mentors for vacation programme participants and conduct in-office interviews with prospective candidates.
There will always be much work and excitement leading up to a court deadline, so it's all hands on deck. A trainee will frequently have the chance to write the first draft of the entire court filing or certain elements. This calls for a certain kind of persuasive writing that uses legal justification and citations. The idea that you will inevitably get the chance to lead if you have shown that you have a handle on it is a crucial motivation for properly getting to grips with the facts and concerns of your case right from the start. When your partner takes your first draught to the QC for approval and gives it back to you unaltered, that is the highest compliment and achievement as a trainee!
It should go without saying that no one can trust us to get the major things right when they matter if we can't even get the little details correct. It is incorrect to think that proofreading is uninteresting. The most important thing is to learn how the documents function and what they accomplish in the case or transaction context. This calls for attentive, proactive reading. Always try to proofread with a fresh perspective, if at all possible.
Preparing Trial Bundles
While not the most appealing task, creating trial bindles is quite crucial. Your ability to concentrate is greatly enhanced once you've heard the judge reprimand counsel for a page that was out of place. As you discuss the bundle's contents with the other side and must always guarantee that all parties receive the most recent list, this task calls for organisation and effective communication.
Company House Filings
This is where trainee solicitors working under solicitor training contract take the lead. Filings may be mailed if speed is not of the essence. Trainees frequently rush to Companies House for urgent filings across the city to make the 3 pm "same-day" filing service. One surefire method to make your heart race is a 2.59 pm filing!
Gaining an Understanding of the Market
You rapidly realise how crucial it is to comprehend your client's industry. There are many opportunities to grow here, whether reading the FT in your spare time or attending a conference on "Maximising Value" in financial restructuring. Since you are learning, be bold and ask the juniors as many questions as possible.
Attending Client Events
Although this is not a normal trainee activity, trainers frequently accompany clients to events like dinners. Networking is encouraged at all levels.
At their practice group's weekly or monthly meetings, many practice groups invite trainee solicitors to offer summaries of recent legal developments.
Conducting Workshops for Students or Upcoming Trainees
Trainees typically offer the students a typical trainee task, like an NDA, and have them go through it together.
Bargaining Non-Disclosure Agreements
Also known as Confidentiality Agreements or NDAs, they are excellent tools for teaching drafting and negotiation techniques to young attorneys. Before any exchange of private information between the parties in a transaction, they are signed. You can be given a lot of responsibility in this area to approve crucial transaction paperwork. Under an experienced attorney's supervision, a trainee will typically take the initiative and negotiate with the client on the parameters within which an agreement can be made. After that, the trainee can speak with the opposite side directly and bargain. A trainee from a rival company is often on the opposite side in negotiations; you might even know them. NDAs are an excellent opportunity for trainees to practise the art of bargaining and gain first-hand experience with customers.
Expectations You Must Not Have as a Trainee Attorney
Never expect it to be nine to five. Usually the trainee solicitor programme requires you to work from 9 am to 8 pm. The hours are better for smaller companies and practises outside the City. However, in larger firms, you should occasionally anticipate needing to arrive early, stay late, or work through lunch.
Don't Anticipate Doing Work That Will Require Intellect
Although studying law at university is an academic pursuit, the trainee experience isn't the same. Expect to complete many administrative tasks, such as filling out forms, taking notes, making phone calls, and scheduling meetings. These responsibilities are all significant and may give you headaches due to the demands of the law, but they are not very intellectually or academically demanding. If you meet the requirements, you might get to battle the law.
Don't Anticipate Advising Clients on Legal Matters
Yes, most trainee solicitors interact with clients, although they typically only do so to request documents, schedule meetings, obtain signatures, etc. The individual you deal with when dealing with a large corporation is typically just another lawyer. Trainees only routinely provide direct advice to clients (often individuals) at high-street legal aid practises, and even this will be under supervision.
Be Prepared to Begin from the Bottom
Law firms are more hierarchical than corporations in most other professions, notably the creative sector. The partners are in charge and make all the decisions; the trainees follow their instructions. In this system, you advance as a lawyer yearly, increasing your salary, level of responsibility, and influence over the company.
No Two Legal Positions are Same
Every law firm, area of practice and trainee solicitor programme has something unique to offer. There isn't just one "kind" of the solicitor; various traits and dispositions are required for various positions. Therefore, don't let anyone persuade you that you can't be a lawyer because you lack the qualifications necessary to practise law in a particular field. And just because you hear one lawyer describe their work doesn't guarantee you understand what lawyers do.
Hopefully, you know how difficult it is to land a training contract. This is true for a good reason— trainee solicitor programme is tough. You're expected to put in a lot of effort all the time, manage conflicting demands, be responsive at all times, become knowledgeable about a variety of practice areas, astound your superiors, and worry about retention. However, the law might be it if you're looking for a serious challenge in your work.
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