Lucy Hunter-Jones reflects on her experience as a trainee with Russell-Cooke. Lucy is in her final seat and is currently sitting in the property and housing litigation team.
As I approach the end of my training contract, I am looking back over the past two years and realising how much has changed.
In January 2021, I started at my parents’ house in the middle of lockdown, not able to go into the office, meet my team or socialise with anyone (except my parent’s dog).
Now, I am coming into the office most days, attending firm parties and I am actually too busy to see the dog. I thought it would be interesting to share a few thoughts about my training contact now that it is almost over.
I applied to Russell-Cooke because of the range of seats on offer, and it has lived up to expectations. The fact that we can experience departments such as crime or children & education, both of which undertake publicly funded work followed by a seat in corporate and commercial, is unique. It makes daily lunches with my fellow trainees especially interesting, when one trainee is defending a criminal client in a burglary case, and another is working on a multi-million-pound purchase for a commercial real estate client, the conversation never gets boring.
I have completed seats in real estate, employment, professional regulation and property litigation, and they have all been really different. This means that moving seats can feel like a really big change; every team has its own systems and as a trainee you need to learn to adapt to these quite quickly.
The biggest change was moving from real estate to employment, since the former is a transactional seat, and the latter is litigious. I had also spent most of my real estate seat working from home and my employment seat was very office based.
A few highlights from my four seats include spending seven days at the Royal Courts of Justice at a protection from harassment trial; attending the Employment Appeals Tribunal at a pregnancy discrimination appeal claim; assisting with defending a protected belief discrimination claim, working on a licence to alter for a well-known restaurant in London, and challenging a compulsory slaughter notice of farm animals.
Outside the office
I enjoy playing sport, and I especially enjoy running, so was delighted to discover that Russell-Cooke has its very own running club! I have spent many a Thursday lunchtime running along the river in Putney in the sun.
Running club is great on so many levels: you get out at lunch, you increase your step count, and you get to meet other people in the firm whose paths you might not otherwise cross. As the firm sponsors the Kingston half, it has also meant I have run two more half marathons than I otherwise would have.
The event is really fun and is a good way to meet colleagues. I think this year was a particularly strong bonding experience due to the torrential rain which persisted for the entirety of the race. Sandwiches and Lucozade at the end were very welcome!
Another sporting highlight was playing tennis at Roehampton tennis club. This was a networking event where colleagues and clients played tennis (or golf) with a pro for a few hours, followed by dinner. Although it was about 30 degrees, and although I was getting a bit too competitive, it was lovely to socialise in a different setting.
As a trainee, I have found the people at Russell-Cooke to be so helpful, patient, and great to work with.
Even in the depths of lockdown, I felt like a valued member of my team. There is always someone to ask for help, and it feels genuinely non-hierarchical - in two of my seats I have shared a room with the partner, which really lends itself to this.
The trainee cohort are really close, we have lunch together most days and socials every few months, something I will miss when I qualify!