After the less-than-subtle hint in Andrew’s previous post, I thought I’d try to offer some insight into our Private Client team and what you might expect if you come to spend some time working there, whether during a summer placement or during your traineeship.
Before that though, I should say that my traineeship has been a bit unorthodox. While I spent the majority of my first seat in Private Client, I spent the first two months working in our Insurance and Risk team in the litigation department. The undoubted highlight of my time there was getting to appear in a Small Claims action before the Sheriff. Obviously I was apprehensive, (okay, terrified) but it was an opportunity that I’d be unlikely to get so soon at other firms. And it’s one that all of the litigation trainees get.
If you do a litigation seat in second year, you can appear in higher value, more complex, Summary Cause actions in the Sheriff Court. But even in first year, appearing is as close as you get to feeling like Harvey Specter (If you’re not a Suits fan, please feel free to read Horace Rumpole or Elle Woods or Ally McBeal or whichever fictional character inspires you). As it happened, one of my friends was appearing for the opposition – which made the experience even more surreal. Surreal, but invaluable. The general consensus is that, if you want to be a litigator, it’s important to get as much court experience as you can. Doing a litigation seat here (or even a quarter of one) undoubtedly helps you to gain that experience.
After a couple of months, the Private Client team secured a lot of new work and I was asked if I’d be willing to move over and help out. I decided that I would move. It wasn’t an easy decision but it turned out to be a great one. I’ve been involved in a wide range of things, from multi-million pound assets in foreign countries, right through to visiting clients at home to allow them to sign their wills.
I’ve drafted (countless) wills and a few powers of attorney, liaised with OSCR in relation to the charitable status of several trusts, provided presentations on a range of topics (both internally and externally), visited clients in their homes and conducted my own meeting with a client here at our offices.
The highlight of my time in Private Client? If I was forced to choose one, I’d have to say the degree of client exposure which I got. I spoke directly with clients on a daily basis. By the end of my seat I was trusted with managing a transaction from start to finish by myself. I had spoken with a client in relation to a different matter and they then asked about the preparation of a will and power of attorney. The client came in to chat through the options and I then drafted the necessary documents.
The level of responsibility you are given in Private Client is great. But that doesn’t mean that you are unsupported. The team are brilliant. You can go to anyone, with what might feel like a ridiculous question (and believe me, I have!), and they are never anything other than incredibly helpful and supportive. One of my colleagues was only slightly overselling things when she described the department as “the land of hugs and cuddles”… I assume that hugs and cuddles are metaphorical (I certainly never got any) but you get the sentiment.
There were (only the occasional) late nights in the office. But even they had their perks. It’s easy to hang around a little later when you enjoy what you’re doing. I would wholeheartedly recommend spending some time in Private Client if the opportunity presents itself. The work is interesting, the people are great and it gives you the opportunity to get involved in a much broader range of work than you might think.
I’ve now moved on to work in the employment team. The work here is very different, but just as interesting. Hopefully in a few months I’ll be better placed to offer some insight into the life of an employment law trainee. Unless one of my predecessors in the seat felt like taking me up on my own subtle hint…
On May 8, 2014