A Day in the Life of a Trainee Solicitor at Owen White
I arrive at work, make myself a cup of coffee and review my emails and “to do” list for the day.
Having gone through my emails and identified the day’s tasks, I respond to any emails that I can i.e. files that I am working on and answers to client questions that are within my knowledge.
The firm acts for private landlords, social housing landlords and property developers in the property disputes department. As a trainee I am not expected to know the answer to everything. Where this is the case, I know I can discuss and follow up any questions with my departmental director or supervising solicitor before responding. They are also always more than happy to check any draft emails to clients.
I forward an email from a client with a procedural enquiry that I am unsure about to my supervising solicitor. My supervising solicitor calls me to check if I am free and then pops into my office. We have a chat about the query and she explains the procedure to me and the answer to the client’s questions. I draft an email response to the client which my supervising solicitor checks before I send it out.
Now that I have dealt with my emails, I pick up my first task for the day. I have been asked to draft a final warning letter to the tenant of one of our social housing landlord clients.
A warning letter is one of the precursors to legal action. Where a tenant breaches their tenancy agreement, a landlord can commence court proceedings to seek an injunction to stop the tenant from breaching their tenancy agreement or seek possession of the property. However, landlords first need to have written to the tenant and warned them of their behaviour (usually on more than one occasion) as well as having given them an opportunity to remedy this. We can help clients draft and send out warning letters or do this for them.
In this case, the client has already written to the tenant themselves warning them of their behaviour on more than one occasion and giving them ample opportunity to remedy this. The tenant has failed to remedy their behaviour so we have been asked to draft and send out a final warning letter before the client considers issuing legal proceedings.
I briefly review the client’s correspondence and relevant client documents to identify the specific facts of the case. I note that the tenant is keeping a dog at their property in breach of their tenancy agreement.
This task is relatively straightforward. I select a suitable precedent and begin drafting.
Once I complete the task, I hand the file and my draft letter to my supervising solicitor for review. Once approved, I send this out to the tenant.
On another matter, I have been asked to draft possession proceedings for a different social housing landlord client whose tenant has failed to remedy substantial rent arrears. I do this then pass my draft to my supervisor, who makes a few amendments.
She tells me to let her know if I have any questions about the amendments or would like to go through these. The amendments are straightforward and my supervisor’s notes are really helpful to identify why she made amendments.
I finalise the proceedings and I draft a letter to the court enclosing a copy of the proceedings.
There is a hearing at 2pm which I am attending with Counsel, so I will need to leave the office and make my way to the Court at 1.30pm. I take an early lunch and pick up a sandwich. I return to my desk and read over the file for the hearing this afternoon to refresh myself on the issues of the case.
I pack a bag in preparation for Court (laptop, notepad, pen, the physical case files and a copy of the hearing bundle).
I leave the office and make my way to court.
I meet Counsel and our client at Court. We discuss the case and the objectives of today’s hearing. It is a committal hearing for the breach of an injunction order by a tenant. We would like the Court to rule that a breach has occurred and to order a suspended sentence and possible extension of the original injunction order by 6 – 12 months.
The Court usher calls us into Court. The District Judge enters the Court and Court is called into session. Counsel presents the Claimant’s (our client) case and makes submissions. The Defendant is self-represented and makes their own submissions. Witness evidence i.e. from the client and defendant is given. The Judge interacts with the Defendant to help guide him through the Court process and make sure he understands.
My role at court is to assist Counsel with anything that they may need. The Judge checks with Counsel whether the Claimant has served the Defendant with a copy of the hearing bundle and if so, when and how. Counsel is not specifically aware of how and when service of the hearing bundle was affected on the Defendant since this is something that Owen White would have carried out. Counsel asks the Judge for permission to confer with instructing solicitors (me). I have a quick peruse of the correspondence file and confirm the relevant details to Counsel so that he can advise the Judge.
Having heard submissions and seen the evidence the Judge delivers his judgment in our favour. Counsel requests costs for the Claimant based on the Schedule of Costs that was filed and served prior to the hearing and the Judge makes an order accordingly. Counsel is to draft and email the order to be sealed. After the successful outcome for our client at the hearing, there is a quick debrief between me, Counsel and the client before we all leave court.
I arrive back at the office and prepare my hearing notes. I update the file and brief the relevant fee earner on the hearing, returning the file to her and discussing any outstanding matters.
I email the client summarising the outcome of today’s hearing and the next steps, copying the fee earner into my email.
I check the emails that I received while I was out of the office and respond as appropriate. I prepare a “to do” list ready for when I come in the morning.
There is a trainee social after work today. We usually have a trainee social once a month whether lunch, dinner or other social activity.
Once we are done for the day (usually around 5-6pm), we all meet in reception and head out for a meal to catch up. Tonight, we are trying out a new restaurant that has opened up nearby. We share work and other stories as well as offer each other guidance and tips. All the trainees are genuinely welcoming, friendly and more than just colleagues. It’s nice to be able to socialise outside of work and swap stories and encouragement since we are all in the same boat.
I head home to relax and unwind.