Having spent two seats of my traineeship in contentious construction, an NQ role in the team was an easy choice. I knew better than most what I was letting myself in for: a great team, exciting work, and something that would challenge me.

If you had asked me when I was a law student what I would end up specialising in, I don't think I would have said contentious construction. That's largely because it's an area that we don't get much experience of at university – in fact, I didn't really know anything about it as an area of law until my summer placement at Brodies in 2017.

I would describe contentious construction as a more specialised kind of commercial litigation, meaning that any skills you might have learned as part of a commercial litigation seat are entirely applicable here. There is also a high level of contractual work, with many clients using the main suites of a construction contract, JCT/SBCC or NEC. This means that many of the skills picked up in transactional seats are also very valuable.

Why contentious construction?

Part of what makes contentious construction so enjoyable is that there is a range of dispute resolution methods that we use – from the fast-paced industry-specific adjudication process, to mediation, to Court of Session actions. This means that work in the team varies between providing pre-dispute advice, running adjudications and Court of Session actions, public inquiry work and working on the occasional sheriff court action.

Personally, most of all, I love the fact that construction law is an ever evolving area– with a number of live points presently going through the courts and questions often arising in relation to the most topical of issues, such as Brexit, COVID-19, and material shortages. This makes my job mentally stimulating and far from repetitive.

No such thing as a typical day

First of all, no two days are the same, but to give an idea of what's involved,. I've set out some examples of tasks that I've carried out recently:

  • Drafting jurisdictional submissions as part of an adjudication;
  • Taking and drafting up witness statements as part of adjudication submissions;
  • Drafting various advice notes for clients, including most recently on the material shortages in the construction industry;
  • Liaising with counsel in relation to the citation of witnesses in a Court of Session action.

Top tips

If you're interested in applying for an NQ role in contentious construction, my top tips are:

  • Show an eagerness to specialise - contentious construction is a specialism, so demonstrating a willingness to learn about the industry and get stuck into this particular area of law is crucial.
  • Show how your skills are transferable. You won't necessarily be expected to have experience of construction law (although it's great if you have) – set out why the skills you have learned in litigation or transactional seats are applicable to a role in contentious construction.

If you are interested in applying for an NQ role in contentious construction and would like some more information, feel free to contact me by email or drop me a message on LinkedIn.

Applications for our NQ roles are live - apply now!


Lucy McCracken

Senior Solicitor