Posted: 19.01.21 at 15:05 by Thatcher + Hallam
My name is James Weller. I am a trainee solicitor at local solicitors Thatcher + Hallam. Having passed both my degree and professional legal exams, before actually qualifying as a solicitor I have to undergo a two year period as a ‘trainee solicitor’, where I learn about the actual practicalities of legal practice.
From most people that I speak to, the majority have no idea what a trainee solicitor does, so hopefully this brief blog will clarify and will be helpful to any other young people considering a career in law.
The first part of my training is working with the firm’s Commercial Property partner Lucy Ingram and I am now beginning my transition into the Personal Injury department. I have now been working with Lucy for several months.
Here is a snapshot of my typical day as a trainee solicitor.
8.45 Ordinarily this is when I arrive at the office and make myself a cup of coffee but during lockdown this happens at home. Lucy and I then talk through the plan of action for the day ahead – which we have got used to doing ‘virtually’ now. I take notes of what actions were decided at our meeting and then check through my emails, highlighting the high priority matters and planning my day around those.
9.00 I begin researching the background to agricultural rights of way including their validity and how they can be obtained or removed. Using the firm’s extensive research tools I am able to find articles containing all of the background information that I need. After reading these over I create a draft letter for Lucy to look at later.
10.00 Over the past weeks I have been assisting Lucy with the purchase of an industrial unit. It has now come to the stage where the client has requested searches to be undertaken on the property. Property searches reveal vital information that a buyer will want to be aware of before proceeding with the purchase. For example, a flooding search will reveal how susceptible the property is to river, surface or groundwater flooding. A coal mining search will reveal whether there are any old mine shafts running underneath the property which are likely to cause ground instability. The results of these searches are all key to ensuring that the client purchases a property which has a secure and marketable title.
I obtain a quote from a specialist firm to have these searches done. Once I have this quote, I get the client’s authority to proceed and the specialist search company is informed by me to proceed.
10.30 I receive an email from a potential client who has contacted Thatcher + Hallam using our free virtual legal surgery process. The firm has been running its own free legal surgery for many years, but since the first lockdown back in March for obvious reasons the service has had to be run ‘remotely’. This process offers people an opportunity to email the firm on a variety of legal issues and a member of the team will then contact them to discuss how to move forward.
This particular enquiry concerns a potential client asking me to clarify the extent of the land within their title. I read through the email, briefly research the legal background and call the client. We discuss the general nature of their property ownership and, when it transpired that not all of the land was registered to the client, I offer some preliminary guidance on the options of how to rectify this.
The client decides that they want Thatcher + Hallam to look closer at the property ownership and it is agreed to formally open a file for this matter. After we end the call I send a request to accounts to open the file and make a quick note to myself detailing what we discussed and how we plan to move forward.
11.30 I call the Land Registry to request an application update for a lease registration, which we sent to them last week. Whilst on hold I listen to the soothing music kindly provided by HM Land Registry. I am eventually put through when they inform me that the application is ‘still being processed’ and there is nothing more they can do. I thank them very much for their time and end the call. I set a file note to try again next week. In the meantime, I email the client to provide an update on what is happening.
11.40 I begin drafting a share purchase agreement for a client. One way to transfer ownership of a company is to sell the company shares, which is achieved using this type of agreement. Although the ownership of the shares in the company may change, the day-to-day activities of the business continue, with contracts, employees and property staying with the company. Such agreements are often complex and time consuming to draft but I make good headway before stopping for lunch.
1.00 Lunch is always taken at home, lockdown or not, as I live locally. It is a crisp and beautiful winter's day so I sit outside with the dog and throw his ball around, thinking through the tasks I need to do once I am back at my desk.
2.00 Good news. On returning my desk I see I have received one of the property searches I requested before lunch from our specialist. I copy these to the client’s digital file and begin a ‘searches report’. This is a letter to the client detailing the potential issues and risks the searches have flagged up and advice on what future action the client may wish to take.
3.00 I send the first draft of the search report to Lucy to check over and amend. Supervision of my work is a key element of any solicitor traineeship. I then resume my earlier work on drafting the share purchase agreement.
5.00 The end of the working day has arrived. As always, I then prepare a list of tasks to do tomorrow; detailing those which still remain outstanding together with their priorities, including finishing the share purchase agreement, finalising the searches report and a new task to assist Lucy in drafting a shop lease.
The end of the day…
Once I’ve finished work, but before leaving my desk, I catch up with a fellow trainee online. Being a trainee solicitor is a steep learning curve carrying a lot of responsibility and can be stressful at times. However, it is incredibly rewarding and I really appreciate the opportunity that it affords me to learn new things, understand how people run their businesses and at the same time have the benefit of being supervised and taught by a top quality Commercial Property Solicitor.
If you need some local legal advice of any kind you can contact Thatcher + Hallam by clicking HERE : the T& H site