Traineeships

Our first year trainees have now been at the firm for almost a month and the second years have passed the half way milestone! We thought this would be a great time to take a look back at headlines and highlights of the past year.

Court Attendance

As a litigation trainee at Brodies you have the opportunity to appear in Small Claims and Summary Cause cases. We have a court rota, so every week a trainee in each of the offices has to man the court inbox and attend court if any hearings come up. It’s great to get court experience during your traineeship and getting so much exposure to advocacy is an opportunity you don’t get at some other firms. It can be quite scary appearing in court and being on your feet in front of the sheriff, but once you’ve had a few appearances it is a lot less daunting.

As a trainee in the BDAR litigation team I had the chance to appear in the Sherriff Court on an almost weekly basis – after the first couple of weeks I was able to go by myself and appear on multiple small claims cases calling that morning. There is nothing quite like the rush of hearing your case name being called, walking up to the Bench, introducing yourself, making your submissions and then waiting to see whether the Sheriff is with you or not. Working in the different litigation teams you also get the opportunity to attend larger cases in the Court of Session. I was lucky enough to be part of a two week proof in the Commercial Court; helping in the run up with preparing witness statements and productions, and then going to court every day and making a transcript of the witness evidence to send to the Advocate that night.” (Amy Pairman, Commercial Property)

As well as the small claims/summary cause court, second year trainees also get to appear in ordinary cause cases and in tribunals.

During my time as a trainee in the employment department, I was able to appear at my first employment tribunal, representing clients in a range of actions including unfair dismissal and equal pay. I particularly enjoyed the specialist nature of the litigation. I had the opportunity to complete two seats in the employment team, allowing me to develop a more in depth knowledge of the field and get experience of complex work not usually available to trainees.” (John Morgan, Solicitor in Employment)

Competitions

You may have read our recent blog about Kieran McLaughlin and David Thornton, two of Brodies’ new trainees, who represented Scotland at the International Negotiation Competition in Switzerland.

On 5 July, David Thornton and Kieran McLaughlin set off to Lucerne, Switzerland, to represent Scotland in the International Negotiation Competition (INC) along with 23 teams from around the world. After a conference on negotiation strategy and style on day one, the remaining four days were spent negotiating against teams from Singapore, Japan, Italy, India and Russia. Overall, David and Kieran placed 9th in the competition and, having backpacked through Central America together a few weeks prior, look forward to applying their new skills as trainees in the Aberdeen office.” (David Thornton, Commercial Property and Kieran McLaughlin, Energy and Infrastructure)

Getting Published

We are encouraged to get involved in drafting blogs and articles and increase our profile where we can. We take turns blogging on the firm’s website, and three of our trainees – Letitia Longworth, John Morgan and Kathryn Alexander – have been posting monthly blogs on the Law Society’s trainee page for the past year. We also help colleagues with legal updates and articles for the firm’s main webpage. Our trainees are also keen to write for external publication and some, such as John Morgan, have won prizes for their submissions including the SYLA/WS Society Essay Prize and UK Association for European Law’s Biennial Essay Prize. A few of our trainees have even been published in the Law Society Journal.

Stephanie Barratt and Kathryn Alexander, trainees in Personal Injury and Insurance and Risk wrote an article on travel platform Airbnb which was published in the November 2015 edition of the Scotsman Online and the October 2015 edition of the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland online. This article discussed the potential pitfalls in terms of legal liability that can arise when hosting an Airbnb guest and how to avoid these.

Additionally, Stephanie Barratt and John Morgan, trainees in Personal Injury and Employment wrote an article on ride-sharing app Uber. The article was published in the March 2016 edition of the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. The commentary focused on how recent developments in employment law could provide clarity as to who may be liable in an event of a personal injury claim arising out of an Uber driver’s negligent actions or omissions.

It’s great to see your name published in the Journal or up on the website and get recognition for what you have written.

Maggie’s Culture Crawl

Brodies has chosen Maggie’s as the firm’s official charity partner for 2016. Brodies take part in and organise a number of activities throughout the year to raise as much as we can for such a worthy charity. A very fit and healthy bunch of Brodies staff took part in the Rob Roy Challenge to raise funds for Maggie’s.

As part of a team of more than 20 colleagues, five of us took part in the Rob Roy Challenge in Perthshire to raise money for Maggie’s. This was the first time most of us had done a hike and bike challenge and what a great experience it was – if a little warm! To be a part of Brodies team raising money for such a great charity is definitely one of the highlights of the first year of my traineeship.” (Martin Smail, Banking)

In September 2015, Brodies was also the headline sponsor for the first ever Maggie’s Culture Crawl Edinburgh, a 10 mile twilight walk around the Capital to raise funds for the charity. A group of our trainees took part, visiting iconic buildings and discovering cultural, architectural and artistic treasures along the way. The Culture Crawl is happening in both Glasgow and Edinburgh this year, and looks to be another great event.

A highlight for me would be the Maggie’s Culture Crawl in Edinburgh a group of us did last year. It was such a good opportunity to get to know the other trainees, as well as meet other colleagues at Brodies, as it was just a few months after we had started. It was also quite overwhelming how much effort went into organising the event for Maggie’s Charity and how much the firm contributed to sponsor such a great cause.” (Nathalie Ward, Commercial Property)

PRIME

Brodies is a founding member of PRIME, an outreach initiative which aims to encourage greater diversity in the legal profession by offering quality work experience and continuing support to young people from less privileged backgrounds.

Several trainees were involved in running sessions with the PRIME students during their week’s work experience at our offices. We gave presentations and talks on research skills, mooting, and the role of the trainee in different departments around the firm. The tasks that we set led to some interesting discussions among the group, which we were able to add to with some of our experiences from practice. PRIME is a great programme for trainees to get involved with – it’s enormously rewarding to play a part in showing students what a career in law can look like; and a number of us have continued to mentor our PRIME students since they returned to school. Who knows – we might have inspired one or two trainees of the future!” (Letitia Longworth, Personal & Family and Martin Smail, Banking)

As well as a week’s work experience in the office some of our trainees continue to mentor PRIME students after they return to school. This aims to offer support and develop long-term relationships, beyond the end of their work experience. We offer additional coaching and mentoring for all participants as they continue on to higher education or the start of their professional working lives.

After assisting with PRIME last year I continued to mentor one of the pupils who had attended the week long work experience programme. I was delighted when this pupil was offered a well-deserved place at Edinburgh University to study law and politics. As someone who attended a state school in a financially disadvantaged town, I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to attend university and obtain a traineeship (and now NQ job) at Brodies. I want more pupils from a diverse range of backgrounds to have the opportunities that I have had and I think PRIME can offer this. PRIME has given me the chance to give something back to the local community and to show pupils that a career in law is open to everyone so long as you are dedicated, motivated and eager to learn.” (Sally Pugh, Solicitor in Commercial Property)

Business Development Events

It’s not all hard work and as trainees we have so many opportunities to get involved in Business Development events whether it’s helping out at seminars, attending conferences or sleeping out at the zoo! I wrote about my time at the zoo in my last blog. International conferences are a great chance to represent the firm, expand your network and develop your knowledge.

I attended a few conferences to represent the firm, such as the FIDE Congress in Budapest, the UK Environmental Law Association’s annual conference in Brighton, and I am heading to the International Bar Association’s annual conference in Washington DC in September this year. I particularly enjoy international aspects of law as it is common in these boundaries to find interesting legal problems. At Brodies there are lots of opportunities to work with firms and clients from around the world. Attending these kinds of conference is a great way to raise your profile, hear from some very interesting speakers, and meet lawyers from lots of other jurisdictions.” (John Morgan, Solicitor in Employment)

We also get the chance to dress up and some of our trainees have represented the firm at black tie dinners and balls.

Although normally an event too grand for trainees, I was fortunate enough to be asked last minute to attend the WS Society annual ball, a black tie event held in the incredible WS Library. The short notice meant a high pressure turnaround from work wear to black tie formal, but it was well worth it to attend and assist the 3 Brodies partners in hosting a table for several good contacts, all the while enjoying fantastic food, wine, and entertainment!” (Natalie Bundy, Insurance and Risk).