Mark Williams recently started his third seat as a trainee at DTM Legal LLP. Here he describes a typical day in the office.
Having completed my first seat in the Litigation department in our Liverpool office, I moved to the firm’s Chester office for my second seat. Here is a run down of a recent day for me since moving into the Property department – I hope it is a useful insight.
8.30 – 8.45am: I arrive in Chester after catching the train from Liverpool. The train journey provides a useful opportunity to catch up on the news and read a property article that arrived in my inbox overnight. The office is only a minute’s walk from Chester station and I get into the office (eventually) after a colleague forgets the keys to the main door! We have a quick laugh about it before I log onto the computer, check my emails and review my task list while the kettle boils for a cup of tea.
8.45 – 9.30am: One of my Property supervisors asks for my help to write a report on a file where a client is looking to renew a lease. Our client has some questions about the rights the land has the benefit of and how to ensure they are protected, so I start looking into it. I organise my findings and report back to my supervisor. He and I then discuss the report before I call the client to answer their questions.
9.30am – 12:30pm: A Partner in the Property department asked me at the start of the week to attend a hearing at court with a Landlord client who wanted the court to Order that his Tenant vacates the Landlord’s property. Attending a hearing in court can seem quite daunting at first but I have prepared thoroughly and the more you attend, the better you become at advocacy. I have a final read through the file on the 25 minute train journey to Birkenhead County Court and meet the client in plenty of time as arranged. The hearing goes well and our client is granted the Order. Meeting the expectations of clients is of paramount importance and our happy client offers me a lift back to the office in Chester which will help save time as my day is a busy one!
12.30 – 1.00pm: I advise my Supervising Partner that the hearing was a success and I receive some encouraging words. It’s satisfying to know that you have done a good job! I return to my desk and my Property supervisor hands me his mark-up of an e-mail of advice I drafted yesterday. I go through the mark-up and make the required changes – thankfully not too many – before I send the revised version to the client.
1.00 – 1.30pm: Lunchtime. The morning has gone quickly. My lunch is rarely a surprise as I tend to make mine before I leave in the morning. Trainees, newly qualified solicitors and support staff catch up on daily affairs on the comfy couches by the kitchen and today I join them.
1.30 – 2.00pm: I check my task list and see that I need to open a couple of new files and draft a couple of client care letters. After realising that we don’t have all the client identification needed to open the file, I raise this with the relevant Property Associate. After speaking with him, I send an email to the client requesting the missing information.
2.00 – 3.30pm: I attend a scheduled client meeting with a Property Partner and a Property Associate, to meet a new client of the firm. Despite the serious nature of the discussion and the client’s concerns about how they can sell their interest in some land to a joint owner, the client is put at ease as the Partner and Associate explain the necessary steps. I am taking minutes of the meeting, which isn’t easy as the discussion moves quickly. However, the meeting goes well and it’s great to learn from experienced lawyers. I return to my desk to type up the minutes, put a printed copy on the file and save a copy to the electronic file so that anyone picking up the work can see the work that is required to be done.
3.30 – 4.45pm: A Litigation Partner asks me if I have capacity to do some research into the increase in the bankruptcy threshold. Although I am in a Property seat Trainees are required to help in other departments where possible. As I have nothing urgent to do on my ‘to do list’ I say that I can help. I conduct the research and send my findings by e-mail as requested.
4.45 – 5.45pm: I refer back to my task list and draft a third party legal charge for a client who wishes obtain a charge against a debtors’ property to secure money owed to the client for an unpaid business loan. I gained plenty of drafting experience whilst in my litigation seat. I review the file and draft the charge in an hour before passing it to my supervisor for it to be reviewed.
5.45 – 6.30pm: I review the files that I am working on and ensure things are planned appropriately so that client expectations can be met. I prepare a list of things to do tomorrow morning, log my time recording for the day and complete my Training Contract diary.
6.30 – 10.00pm: I make my way to the station before catching the train back to Liverpool for a game of squash. Playing sport is a great way to keep healthy and meet new people (which the Partners like). I am playing back in Liverpool tonight and it’s a good evening as the team wins! Tomorrow is good on two fronts as the firm has dress-down Fridays and the office closes at 4.30pm!