I am a third year LLB student from the University of Law in Leeds. I applied to SJP Law following a presentation that I attended with one of the firm’s directors, Alistair Latham. On the first day of the scheme, we had IT training informing us about how to use the systems at the firm in order to do our own work. I then completed 3 seats in different departments to get a taster of the whole firm over the course of the 2 weeks.
In each department I sat with directors of the firm whilst also engaging with the other staff in the department. I really enjoyed having my own exercises to do, that were relevant to the department I was in as it gave me the opportunity to discover what it would be like to actually work at the firm. The tasks were similar to what the trainees in the departments were doing and I was able to ask for help whenever I needed.
The three departments that I worked in were:
In the company commercial department I used the firm’s case management system to input client data and set up case files, drafted letters of advice to client regarding employment matters and drafted commercial contracts.
This department was probably my favourite as I found the cases really interesting. I read through case bundles to assess the liability of clients, wrote letters to clients regarding clinical negligence claims and prepared research reports on obscure medical procedures.
Whilst in my final seat I drafted a commercial lease, wrote letters to clients instructing them how to execute legal documents correctly and even conducted research to advise clients on the costs of running a wind farm!
In every department, I had to record my time in units (just like a solicitor does) and prepare invoices to send to clients. This was really insightful as it is one of the key things that solicitors deal with and most people don’t get to have a trial run of this until they become a solicitor.
Whilst at the firm, we also had 2 lunches that were organised by the firm. In week 1, we had lunch with some of the recently qualified solicitors at a local restaurant. This was a brilliant opportunity to find out more about the firm and ask questions. Having recently qualified, they gave us lots of advice about training contract applications and life at SJP Law. In week 2 we had lunch with the directors of the firm in the boardroom. The thought of this terrified me initially, but it was just an informal lunch and chat. We were able to ask lots of questions about the firm, but also discussed the local nightlife and places to visit in the area.
What I gained most from this scheme was the ability to feel like part of the firm for 2 weeks. As a summer student I was apprehensive about being a nuisance to people wanting to get on with their work, but this was definitely not the case at SJP Law. I genuinely felt welcomed into the firm; everyone knew who I was and why I was there and they were all happy to help me if I was stuck.
The culture of the firm definitely stands out. The staff are very friendly and nobody is too busy to speak to you or answer questions. Walking around the building, I found it hard to tell who was a director, who was a paralegal and who was a cashier as everyone is so approachable. The time that I spent with the directors when they looked through my work was evident of this. In each department, despite having their own work to do, they all took the time to go through the tasks with me and give me detailed feedback about how I could improve and how things work in practice.
I absolutely loved the vacation scheme and thoroughly enjoyed my time at SJP Law. I would highly recommend the scheme to anyone interested in a career in law as it gives you the ability to experience what it would be like to be a solicitor.
Thank you for having me, SJP Law!