By Chloe Westwell, trainee solicitor
No two days are ever the same at Fletchers Solicitors.
Currently, I am working in the Litigation Team in the Clinical Negligence Department which is the first seat on my training contract. I did work in the Department before I started my training contract which has significantly helped my move into litigation work. My next seat will be for four months in the RTA pre-issue technical team.
There are currently 8 trainees within the firm, spread across the various Departments. The trainees often support one another and work together on extra project work so we are all in it together.
The work I do really varies. Currently, my main duties include assisting the senior solicitors on litigated cases by drafting court compliant documents, instructing medical experts, attending Court where necessary, and attending conferences with counsel, medical experts and our clients. The list is endless. I love the work I do. I have a lot of support and responsibility. I really feel as though I am making a contribution to our clients’ cases. It is particularly rewarding being able to settle a case that you have worked on.
The start of my working day varies quite a lot depending on what is in my diary. Typically, I’ll come in between 8:30am and 8.45am. Other times, if I am going to Court or other events, my day may start earlier. You have to be flexible in this industry. Occasionally, you may have to stay later in the office to get work done or attend an out of hours conference but we are encouraged to manage our own workload and have a healthy work life balance.
I start my day with a cup of tea (two sugars and milk if you’re wondering!) reviewing my task list, checking emails and listening to voicemails to determine what to prioritise during my day. I deal with any urgent matters first. I work in an open plan office so there is a lot of interaction with the senior solicitors throughout the day and other members of the team which is really good as I constantly learn and pick up tips from everyone around me.
I receive an email from a client to advise that they are happy for me to forward a copy of the blog I have completed on their case to our Marketing Department to use as content for our website as it is a unique birth injury case. I proof read the content and send it to the Marketing Department.
Today in my colleague’s absence, an offer of settlement has been received on a case file. This is an interesting case regarding the delay in diagnosis of cancer. I consider the offer carefully to determine if the offer has merits and I prepare a file note on the legal position along with a draft letter to the client enclosing our potential next steps and advice. This requires case law research using online case libraries. My work is reviewed by my supervisor to ensure the advice is correct.
After my second cup of tea, I have a telephone appointment scheduled with a client to discuss their current treatment in order to update their witness statement. I use appropriate interviewing techniques to get the relevant information from the client and update the statement. I time record throughout the day for the work done. I deal directly with a range of different clients on a daily basis whether that’s giving them an update on their case or handling a telephone appointment to discuss various matters. We are exposed to a lot of client contact. I also deal with a lot of Hospital Trusts and GP practices.
I attend an in-house training webinar on ‘Updates in the Law.’ Training sessions are held frequently for all members of the firm to ensure our knowledge remains current. There are also specific trainee training sessions which involve attending hour long training sessions every couple of weeks that are run by specialists in other areas of the business to give us an overview of other areas of law. Most training sessions are recorded and placed on our online learning system to access at all times. This is useful if you cannot attend the training or if you need a re-cap. Fletchers thrive on growing their own staff to reach their potential.
A few of the trainees have a catch-up lunch planned today. Will it be the local office bar and grill or the famous cheesy popcorn chicken wrap from the butty shop? There are so many great local food places to choose from. During lunch, we discuss our experiences in our different seats and how our professional skills course is going. It is really nice to keep in touch with all the trainees as we can share all of our experiences together and it is helpful to give me an idea of what my future seats may involve.
After briefly catching up on any emails, I attend the monthly team meeting, with chocolate of course! This is to discuss any updates within the Department and points on the agenda. It’s a fantastic opportunity to obtain and provide feedback about current processes in the team or any issues team members are having on difficult cases. Everyone can chip in and offer advice where needed.
2.30 – 4pm
I attend an urgent telephone conference with a senior solicitor, counsel, 2 medical experts and the client to discuss the medical evidence in more detail, the merits of the case and the next steps moving forward. As the trainee, it is my job to write a detailed attendance note and to type this up after the conference for the file in case we need to refer to this at a later date. It is really interesting listening and learning more about actual medical conditions from the experts’ discussions and it gives you a thorough understanding of the case.
At 4pm, I get an email from a senior solicitor to do some research into our client’s loss of earnings position and whether I believe there is any effect on the client’s pension following being medically discharged from the Army. I am asked to update the schedule of loss with my findings. I begin reviewing our client’s wage slips and personnel file to identify the timeframe our client was off work to begin to calculate any lost earnings. As a trainee, you are still learning and always coming across new things which you may be unfamiliar with. Dealing with an Army pension is not our area of expertise and something I have not dealt with before but during my research I detect that this may be affected so I make a note of my findings or any questions I am unsure of to discuss with the senior solicitor tomorrow.
All the members of my team are attending the annual Chinese meal night straight after work. It is great to catch up and have fun but forget about the diet! Fletchers encourages a good work / life balance and there are a lot of social events going on throughout the year such as meals, sports teams’ events, quizzes and the annual Summer Awards, and Christmas parties.
Fletchers is a modern and forward thinking law firm. They concentrate on developing their own employees and I look forward to developing my knowledge and expertise further ready to qualify as a Solicitor.