A year in the life of a Trainee Solicitor
In September last year, I started my training contract with Coffin Mew and joined the other new trainees at our Southampton office. We had met previously when the firm’s trainees arranged a dinner a few weeks before. On day one, we were re-introduced to the CEO of the firm, Miles Brown (having met him on our assessment day) and given an overview of the firm’s ambition, practice areas and the support in place for trainees. The next couple of days involved the induction– a thrilling whirlwind of IT, policies and procedure! We came away from the induction confirming our views that we had joined a firm with direction and plenty of enthusiasm.
I started in the Commercial and Employment Services team based in our Portsmouth office and was quickly exposed to a range of contentious and non-contentious work. I was involved in meetings and work with clients from the get-go. Frequently visiting clients at their offices to gain a better understanding of how their businesses ran. I worked closely with a Partner and he was keen to introduce me to long-standing clients and form a good relationship with them.
Task-wise, drafting goods and service agreements became my bread and butter and I was able to put my interest in IP and IT and my previous experience into practice when managing our trade mark portfolio and advising on commercial contracts. Other issues I helped clients with included competition law issues and contracts with international elements.
There were also plenty of opportunities to attend events and I was encouraged to engage in business development individually and as a part of the team. I visited a number of science and technology expos and general networking events. I even presented at two of our own events on supply contracts and basic contract law.
Highlights included drafting a purchase agreement for a technical scientific instrument with a value of approximately £1.5m, assisting start ups from the outset and attending a two-day employment tribunal with counsel in Bristol on a significant trade union claim with over 100 claimants.
I can look back now and see the large amount of responsibility given to me at the outset and how it increased as I built client and colleagues’ trust. Nearing the end of my first seat I met with new clients alone and was bringing in new leads and clients from events.
After my 6 months in the team was up, I moved to the Dispute Resolution team – a world of litigation, strict deadlines and heated conflict.
On starting my second seat, Coffin Mew had recently merged with Charles Lucas & Marshall, gaining three offices in the Thames Valley, expanding our offering in the South . This meant more clients across a greater range of industries coming to us with their issues, as the M4 corridor opened to Coffin Mew. Trainees were given the opportunity to visit the new offices, help with integration and share the friendly office atmosphere.
The experience gained in my first seat helped me see the big picture around the cases I worked on and advise clients accordingly. Some clients wanted to fight for the principle and others wanted a commercial solution rather than a public spat.
On the business development side, I frequently attended Southampton Property Association events with colleagues and joined them for a 30/50 mile bike ride through the New Forest.
I also stayed on top of issues affecting local businesses at events run by accountants and IT professionals, keeping well-fed at networking breakfasts!
Highlights included attending a case management conference at court where post-conference negotiations included offers of a Rolex watch, making for interesting note-taking, and spearheading a consumer law dispute where I advised and successfully negotiated a settlement on behalf of the client. I also assisted with several data protection breaches, incorporating IT issues and social media, and carried out complicated research into consumer finance protection which had an international element.
I have now moved in to the Corporate team for my third seat. After only a couple of weeks, I have been involved in four very different transactions and met with some colourful characters. I look forward to gaining experience in transactions and continuing to develop skills.
Throughout my first year, the trainees arranged get-togethers and the firm paid for our membership of the South Hampshire Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society, of which four of my colleagues have various positions.
If you are looking to join a leading, modern and forward-thinking firm rapidly expanding from the South Coast, do get in touch with Coffin Mew!