By RoxanneB 17 May 2021 5 min read

A day in the life of a trainee solicitor (secondment)


Introducing Ellen

Ellen Robinson is a trainee solicitor at Burges Salmon LLP, on secondment to the UK Law Societies’ Joint Brussels Office.

We recently caught up with Ellen who kindly shared with us a snapshot of her typical day as a trainee solicitor.


At the start of the day  

9:00am: I make a cup of tea and log on to my laptop. I have been working from home for the duration of the pandemic and am completing my international secondment remotely due to travel restrictions. I take a look over my to-do list for the day and review the emails I have received so far this morning.

The Brussels team operates on Central European Time and many of my colleagues have already been working for an hour. I familiarise myself with the day’s most important legal and political news stories, looking at both UK and EU news sources. I remind myself of any important meetings or votes taking place today in the UK Parliament or the EU institutions.

9:30am: I attend the Brussels Office’s daily team morning coffee meeting with the Office’s policy advisers and the other trainees currently on secondment. The meeting offers a chance to start each day with a friendly (virtual) face-to-face catch up with my colleagues. We each explain what we will be working on for the day ahead.

We discuss current affairs in the EU and the UK, identifying new and ongoing areas of interest for the Office’s legal policy work. The policy advisers distribute any new work between the trainees.

10:00am: I begin preparations for the Office’s weekly Brussels Agenda meeting. The Brussels Agenda is the Office’s monthly newsletter and trainees take turns to act as editor-in-chief. This month I am editing the Brussels Agenda.

I review the template I have set up to track progress on various articles and features for the newsletter. I email a number of external contributors to thank them for sending me articles on EU legal and policy topics. I upload to the Brussels Office website an article I had drafted the previous week on the gendered impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the EU’s policy response.

I promote the article on the Office’s Twitter and LinkedIn feeds.

10:30am: As editor-in-chief, I am responsible for leading the Brussels Agenda meeting. I run the team through the status of the various articles and ask one of my fellow trainees to contribute a summary of a recent EU policy development.

The team brainstorms ideas for the next Brussels Agenda edition’s theme, considering topics such as private international law, criminal justice cooperation and technology and digital law and policy.

The policy advisers suggest EU politicians, academics and lawyers who the trainees can contact to request articles.

11:15am: I put together the ‘Forward Look’. The Forward Look is a document that summarises the key meetings and events taking place in the EU institutions and European think tanks in the following week.

I attach the upcoming meeting agendas of any relevant European parliamentary committees. I circulate the Forward Look to the Brussels Office team with a brief email highlighting which events are most likely to be relevant for the Office’s policy dossiers.

12:00pm: I attend a meeting for the Management Committee of Burges Salmon’s LGBT+ employee network, BProud. The Committee discusses progress on numerous initiatives and events designed to promote LGBT+ inclusivity at the firm.

After the meeting, I write a list of action points for myself and email internal contacts at Burges Salmon to take forward BProud’s projects. I read an informative article on LGBT+ rights that one of the network members has shared on the BProud WhatsApp group.


In the afternoon

1:00pm: I stop work for lunch. Bristol is renowned for its excellent food scene, and I pick up lunch from one of the city’s many street food vendors. I stretch my legs and take a break from screens by going for a walk around Bristol’s famous Floating Harbour.

2:00pm: I attend a meeting of the Law Society of England and Wales’ Private International Law working group. The group discusses the current state of play in the field of private international law and the UK’s strategic priorities for the future. I take minutes highlighting the action points and key issues, and circulate my notes to the Brussels Office team after the meeting.

3:00pm: I draft several new entries for the Brussels Office’s monthly case law digest. I research recent cases decided by the Court of Justice of the European Union and pick out those most relevant to the Brussels Office’s policy dossiers.

I write up brief case reports for each of them, summarising the material facts and legal findings. I send the case law digest to the Brussels Office team for checking and approval before uploading it to the Office website.

4:00pm: I put together a ‘Daily Monitoring’ email, which the Brussels Office trainees take turns to complete. The task involves reviewing UK and EU news sources as well as the websites of Council of the European Union, the European Commission and European Parliament. I pull together links to the most relevant breaking news stories and circulate them to the Brussels Office team.

4:30pm: I attend a meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. The Members of the European Parliament are discussing a range of legal issues relating to the UK’s departure from the European Union.

I take minutes and circulate them to the Brussels Office team alongside a note summarising the positions taken by the different political groups within the European Parliament.


At the end of the day

5:30pm: I have a final check of my emails to ensure that I have responded to all of them as appropriate. I draw up a to-do list for the following day, encompassing the various action points arising from my meetings over the course of the day.

I save any remaining documents, shut down my laptop and head out to meet a group of Burges Salmon trainees in the beer garden of one of Bristol’s many excellent pubs.