First-seat trainee Charlie Gavriel reflects on a 'typical' day in the life of a commercial litigation trainee lawyer.
Trying to summarise a ‘day in the life’ of a commercial litigation trainee is difficult as no two days are ever the same! However, it is this fluidity and dynamism which makes the seat such an exciting one.
8:30 am: I like to arrive to the office early in the morning. I use this time to consider my to-do list and begin prioritising the tasks which I need to complete throughout the day. This allows me to effectively manage my time and maximise my efficiency. I then look through my emails and duly respond to any correspondence requiring my attention.
9:30 am: Once all the members of our team have arrived, we have a business development meeting. This is a great opportunity for us to discuss the cases everybody is working on and provide an indication as to our capacity to take on more work.
10:00 am: After our meeting, I am instructed by an associate in the team to call the court to confirm the safe receipt of a default judgement and cover letter that I had drafted earlier the previous week. I record a telephone note of my discussion with the court and save it onto the system accordingly. I update the associate as to the outcome of the call, which he then uses to inform the client of the progress being made in their case. It is hugely important that we have an open dialogue with our clients and keep them abreast of all significant developments.
10:45 am: Once I have completed my call to the court, my supervisor introduces me to a new case, which concerns a claim for damages into the millions! I am given the responsibility of drafting a letter of response to the opponent’s solicitors, outlining precisely how we have quantified the losses sustained by our client. To this end, I review instructions from the client alongside spreadsheets and tables showing how the claimed sum has been calculated. I am then tasked with presenting this information in a clear, logical and cohesive manner. I complete a preliminary draft which I discuss with my supervisor. He makes certain recommendations which I return to my desk to promptly act upon.
1:25 pm: I venture onto Putney High Street to buy some lunch, before heading back to the firm’s coffee lounge where all the trainees have gathered. This represents a great opportunity to touch base with my fellow colleagues from across the firm.
2:00 pm: After lunch, I begin working on an ongoing dispute. My task is to draft a checklist outlining the legal requirements for practical completion. I review the case files to develop an understanding of the factual background to the dispute and then conduct research on Practical Law into the legal intricacies of this area. I ensure the checklist is both well-defined and concise, as it needs to be used and understood by both the client and their surveyor.
4:30 pm: On this particular afternoon, I am the fee earner responsible for responding to new enquiries from prospective clients. One of the firm’s legal assistants provides me with a brief summary of the dispute which I use to identify the key legal issues at play. I discuss my thoughts on the case with a member of my team and make a list of all the additional information I want to ascertain from the client during our call. Having the opportunity to independently speak with prospective clients at such an early stage of my training contract is a truly invaluable learning curve. I then make a detailed note of the contents of the call and relay this to my supervisor. I subsequently draft a follow-up email to the client requesting some further documentation which will allow us to consider their claim more fully.
5:30 pm: As a trainee, it is important that we conduct thorough training on a variety of different topics. I take the opportunity to conduct some of the activities on the firm’s online learning hub, which cover a wide array of subjects ranging from client interaction to anti-money laundering and conflict checks.
6:10 pm: Towards the end of the day, I like to conduct a review of the tasks I have completed and proof read any important documents or pieces of work that I have been instructed to draft. I then update my to-do list ready for the following day.
6:30 pm: I log off on my computer and say goodbye to my team before heading back home for the evening.