A day in the life of a Dispute Resolution trainee

Follow me through my day in one of the most dynamic departments in the firm.

14 July 2017

By solicitor Daniel Whittle 

Dispute Resolution is a busy and dynamic department, and the work will be sure to keep you on your toes. Contentious work is not for everyone, but it is an essential part of your training contract and every trainee would agree that there is a lot to be learnt from your seat in disputes.

This blog sets out a day in my life as a disputes trainee. It is not entirely typical – most solicitors don't get to go to court very often – but almost all the trainees at Burges Salmon will get some experience of a courtroom during their training contract.

My day

  • 7.30am

    My alarm is set earlier than normal (I only live a two minute walk from the office) as I have work to do before attending a hearing at the Bristol District Registry later today. After some breakfast, and spending a little longer than usual picking out a suitably smart tie, I head into work.


  • 8.30am
    Computer on and a quick check to see what emails have come in since I left the office last night.
  • 8.45am
    Team briefing ahead of the appearance at court later today. The hearing is for an emergency freezing injunction, which we are applying for on behalf of our client. If we're successful, the court will order that the respondent is prevented from disposing of any assets pending a further hearing. It’s interesting work, but we have not had much time to prepare and there is still plenty to do before the hearing.
  • 9.00am
    There is more work to be done to complete the documents and bundles for the hearing. The documents are due at court by 10.00am to give the judge time to read through them, which means this has to be completed quickly and efficiently.
  • 9.45am

    The District Registry is a 10 minute walk from our office, so I take the documents down the road myself to make sure that they are filed correctly.

  • 10.15am

    Back at the office. Time for coffee. The firm’s on-site eatery, Glassworks, has a great coffee shop attached to it.

  • 10.20am
    The hearing is scheduled for 12pm, so there is a bit of extra time to complete the remaining bundles for the other side. This application is 'without notice' – the other party is not yet aware that it is happening – and I have made arrangements with a process server to collect the court documents, bundles and, hopefully, the court order from our office after the hearing to serve them on the respondent if we are successful. I give the process server a call to confirm our progress.
     
  • 11.40am
    We get a taxi to the District Registry (it's raining now and we're short of time). The team is made up of a partner, an associate, a solicitor and me.
  • 11.50am
    The barrister is in the foyer waiting for us so that we can have a last-minute briefing.
  • 12.00pm
    We go into the courtroom for the hearing. My job is to take a full attendance note. Capturing an attendance note requires a pace of writing guaranteed to give you a hand cramp that will take you right back to the Law School exam hall.
  • 1.15pm
    The application is successful, but that means there is a lot to do. We jump in a taxi back to the office.
  • 1.30pm
    The team has a de-brief and discusses the most urgent actions. I need to prepare the first draft of a full attendance note which will be served on the respondent.
  • 1.40pm

    But first, lunch. For most trainees that means a trip downstairs to Glassworks. The food is very affordable. It’s also very tasty.


  • 2.15pm
    Back to my desk. A few emails have come in which I have not yet had time to answer.
  • 2.30pm
    I dictate my handwritten notes from the hearing. It’s quite a long task as there was a lot covered. Once it's done, I send it through to my secretary to type up.
  • 3.45pm
    My first chance today to progress some of my other work. The most urgent task is amending a costs estimate for a financial services client that is considering proceedings against their professional indemnity insurers. For the next hour or so I spend some time doing various bits of work, including a further phone call to the process server and a review of previous advice provided to a client concerning their ability to break the leases of their London premises ahead of upcoming work on this matter.
     
  • 5.30pm
    The attendance note is back from my secretary and there is some further work to do on it. The hearing was fast-paced and technical and it needs to be as accurate as possible.
  • 6.30pm
    The attendance note is sent on to the next person that needs to review and add to it. Before it is completed, every member of the team, and counsel, will add their comments. I reply to a couple of emails and write my to-do list for tomorrow.
     
  • 7.00pm
    Dinner time! This evening I am meeting with some friends in Stokes Croft for food and a couple of drinks. It’s a 15 minute walk from the office through the centre of town and there are loads of lively places to eat.

Key contact

A day in the life of a Dispute Resolution trainee

 It is not entirely typical – most solicitors don't get to go to court very often – but almost all the trainees at Burges Salmon will get some experience of a courtroom during their training contract.
Daniel Whittle, Solicitor

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