Eleanor Firth, a fourth seat trainee in the corporate and commercial team, compares contentious and non-contentious commercial work at Russell-Cooke.
Commercial litigation was the third seat in my training contract and has turned out to be my only contentious seat.
After eight months in our Bedford Row real estate team and six months in the Putney private client team I was really looking forward to experiencing a contentious seat.
I am currently in my final seat in the corporate and commercial team (CoCo for short) and whilst these two teams are now separate, they began their life (a long, long time ago) as one joint team.
I thought I would briefly compare and contrast my time in the two teams to give a flavour of what life is like being a second-year trainee at Russell-Cooke.
Sitting within the wider dispute resolution group which encompasses the insolvency team and the professional regulation team, the commercial litigation team covers a really broad range of dispute work.
There are members of the team who specialise in construction, complex contract disputes, professional negligence claims, defamation and harassment claims, IP disputes, complex fraud, regulatory disputes and pretty much everything and anything else in between.
During my time in the seat, I drafted cease and desist letters, pre-action protocol notices, letters before claim and witness statements for hearings. I provided advice to charities on local by-laws and discrimination advice on equality legislation.
I had great exposure attending an interim charging order hearing with junior counsel, and a day long settlement meeting with our client and the other side.
For smaller matters you are often the first point of contact for the client. The seat allowed me to build on my client handling skills, understand different clients’ appetites towards litigation risk and provide advice with clients’ commercial aims in mind.
Since joining the team, I have gained experienced with assisting start-up clients, from running small fundraising rounds for one of our start-up clients to assisting with amending shareholders'agreements, subscription agreements and articles on much bigger transactions.
Alongside the regular corporate trainee tasks of drafting board minutes, amending articles and Companies House filings, I have also had the chance to experience the more commercial work the team does.
I drafted advice for clients on website accessibility considering the Equality Act 2010 and GDPR.
I have undertaken contract reviews, specifically reviewing referral agreements, tripartite agreements and providing advice on which to push back on.
I have also instructed foreign law firms to assist with challenging trademark applications in different countries which are infringing our client’s intellectual property rights.
Work hard, play harder
The social side of both teams has been great to experience. In Comm Lit I had the chance to attend the annual LSLA dinner and the JLSLA summer and autumn parties.
CoCo had their annual karaoke trip to Lucky Voice in Soho recently and I sang Dizzee Rascal’s ‘You’ve got the Dirtee Love’ (ft. Scott Leonard as Florence).
Alongside team lunches and team drinks we also held a joint social between both teams in the summer to help maintain the professional relationships between the teams.
Most partners in both teams trained at Russell-Cooke and so there are very strong and longstanding professional relationships and friendships between the two teams. Having such well-developed relationships comes in really handy when CoCo matters need Comm Lit advice and vice versa.
In terms of legal work, experiencing a seat in both teams will help cement your knowledge and commercial awareness.
They do work together quite closely on matters, and I cannot recommend both teams highly enough!