A day in the Life of our Sarah Lees, Trainee Solicitor
Posted on 25th April 2019 at 11:54
Whilst some law firms like to put their trainees in one department for a set period of time and then move them to the next department for a set period of time, here at MG Legal we find it works better to combine seats so that you do not forget the processes and information you have learnt.
My days are often long but they are most certainly never the same! Whilst Conveyancing can sometimes be somewhat transactional, and Family Law more emotional, it is often found that some Conveyancing transactions become frustrating: when there is a chain, affecting your client’s property transaction, and you have no control over Mrs Smith’s property sale, that is three houses down the chain to your client’s purchase, as a property solicitor who liked to be in control of literally everything, then, well, you start to understand the situation!
On the other hand, Family matters are dealt with in an almost business-like manner, in cases where couples have remained quite amicable and both know what they want the outcome to be. Currently, I spend my Mondays and Thursdays within the Family Department, and the remainder of the week with the Conveyancing Department; however, these days will often be swapped if there is a Family matter in Court.
4.00am – Lay in bed to have a very brief look at emails to see if anyone has emailed me through the night with anything urgent that needs to be dealt with immediately. Being a farmer’s daughter it’s then time to get up, deliver milk, feed and muck-out the horses, and, if I’m lucky (lucky?), squeeze in a quick gym session. Then, at 7.20am its time to set off to work, after checking whether I am off to Garstang, Lancaster, or meeting Sara at Court.
8.45am – Arriving at work, it’s always a quick discussion with Chloe about what we are having for breakfast (generally wishing it was McDonalds but usually something far too healthy!) as the computer is loading. It’s then time to review my emails and deal with any emails requiring immediate action. As a trainee solicitor I am mindful to run all advice and decisions past those supervising me to ensure they are legally and commercially sound.
9.30am – Chloe will begin handing out any post that has been received. I like to scan my post on as soon as it is passed on to me so that there is a record on the file. I will then get out the relevant files on matters which the post has come in on so that I can deal with them the same day.
10am – On a Monday I like to phone the mortgage lenders on all the Conveyancing Matters due for completion this week. I make sure funds for completion are set up for release on purchase files and that we have redemption figures for any sale files.
10.15am – 4pm – This time is a whirlwind of phoning clients, clients dropping into the office, updating Estate Agents, and discussing matters with otherside solicitors. I spend this time getting contract documents out, responding to enquiries, sending enquiries on to clients trying to squeeze out any exchanges.
At MG Legal we’re a friendly bunch, so we are always happy to drop what we are doing for any clients who have phoned with queries or dropped in to the office with a payment to make, or paper work to sign. Sometimes, potential clients will call in when they have found a property to buy, or if they have just put their property on the market and are looking for a Conveyancing quote. We are always able to give an instant quote and, quite often, clients will instruct there and then.
If I am in the Family Law department then you will usually find me taking notes in client meetings, drafting documents for the Court or letters to be sent to the client. Sometimes, you may find me reviewing twelve months’ worth of bank statements, studying each and every transaction to establish what questions need to be asked of other party, or what information needs to be set out on our Form E. As I have been in my Family Law seat since Christmas, I tend to spend a lot of time drafting every document I can - whether that be in a financial matter, a divorce or a children matter. Practice is key, and the best way to learn how to word, draft and complete the Court forms is repetition, so I am always eager to draft anything I can lay my hands on.
4pm – 5.30pm (ish) – Quite often we have a lot of client appointments at this time, as clients have been able to arrange to leave work early to call in to see us.
After this I like to go through my diary to check I have done all the tasks I have sent myself for the day. There is usually something I find which I have not had chance to do, so I like to ensure that I get that done. I then check I have returned all my calls for the day, returning any I may have missed. Finally, I ask the Head of Department to check my post before it goes out, so that it can be signed off before leaving the office.
Of course, if I am in Court then my schedule goes completely out of the window! We never quite know how long we will be in Court, but we do know to arrive an hour beforehand. On arrival I pass my bag to Security for them to check, then walk through the metal detector…setting it off every time! Letting the Court Clerk know we have arrived and establishing whether or not the otherside have arrived yet, I then hurry after Sara as we attempt to find an empty room to discuss matters and take instruction from the client. Once we have taken instruction, we will find the other side’s legal representative and find out whether we are going in to Court with an agreed Order, or if we are asking Court to settle a matter for us. Usually if we are agreed then we can be in and out of Court quickly. However, we have been known to spend a number of hours at Court, and occasionally, if the matter is not agreed, we will appear before the Judge who will give their indication of what they would decide if they were to settle the matter. We would then leave the court room and retire with our client to give further advice, take instructions and then try to negotiate with the otherside. Usually, once both parties have heard from the Judge, then they will come to some kind of agreement so we go back into Court to advise that agreement has been reached, and the Court will make an Order accordingly. Otherwise, we advise the Court that the parties cannot agree and another Court date will be set!
Thankfully I can access emails on my phone, so I can keep an eye on my Conveyancing matters even whilst at Court.
As you can see, no two days are ever the same, but every evening ends with a horse ride, a cuddle with my dog and an attempt to win the ever ongoing “last touch no return” competition with my eleven-year-old little sister.
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