I couldn’t tell you what the inside of a law firm looked like when I applied for training contracts so for me, placement schemes were the only way I'd be sure commercial law was the right path. I secured a place on AG's summer placement scheme in Leeds via the Legal Access Scheme. This is a scheme designed to give applicants who would not have been able to meet the entry requirements on paper, a chance to be considered. The very fact the firm even ran this scheme told me they were different.
A day in the life…
AG runs four, six month seats and I have been in Corporate Banking, Real Estate and now Commercial. My final seat is a client secondment to ASDA's commercial disputes and trading team which I am really looking forward to. I am currently in the Commercial team which means the work is varied but commercial in nature. No day is 'typical' but here is an example:
I tend to get in the office around 08.30 and look through my emails and my to-do list before the day starts. The team will have a huddle first thing on a Monday to see how everyone is getting on and offer support to each other if one person is busy and another has capacity. It's true team work. My first task for the day is drafting an intellectual property licence. I then prepare an issues list for a client on a services contract they've been given by a potential supplier. I meet some of the other trainees at around 12.30 for lunch in the award-winning office café (well-subsidised, delicious shawarma Thursdays and half price cake on Fridays for the win). After lunch, I go to the bi-weekly training session – this week it’s in collaboration with our litigation team and covers common law and express termination rights. My afternoon then consists of reviewing some IT contracts for a company and flagging any concerns for our client (who intends to purchase that company) in a report. I then attend a kick-off call with a partner and a German client for a new piece of work where I'm given the opportunity to ask questions around the instructions we have been given. Following this, I prepare a draft fee quote for the work for the partner to check before I send it to the client. Tomorrow morning I'm heading to client offices in Yorkshire to discuss the services they require from their new supplier so I can then draft the services schedule to the agreement. I print the relevant documents for the meeting and read over the latest emails. I usually finish by 18.00 depending on my workload. I have occasionally left earlier and logged on from home after a gym class to finish something off – the team are really flexible like that. Regardless, there is no expectation to stay late unless you absolutely have to and even that is rare!
I've had so much responsibility on my training contract but a particular highlight was managing a room of over 35 senior business people all day for the completion of an £80m acquisition of a construction company by the Royal Institute of British Architects. I kept clients updated, answered last minute queries, witnessed the administration of a royal seal from 1887 with a 100kg piece of kit and created a bespoke signing process which everyone adopted and ensured all documents were signed correctly and efficiently. The champagne was gladly received at the end and the buzz in the room was phenomenal.
Seat move is like a double edged sword. You want to try new things but just as you start getting good at your current seat you need to move to new area of law and go back to square one! I've now moved teams 3 times and it's never gotten any easier. Thankfully new teams are always welcoming.
One of AGs best traits is its people. Coupled with the good quality work, it’s a partnership that thrives. When walking around the Leeds office, you'd be hard pressed to guess who is a partner and who is a paralegal – there is no snobby hierarchy at all. To find the canteen so busy at lunch times is a good sign. It shows people genuinely get along and when you've got a busy spell that can make all the difference.
I also take pride in the work I do and often see things that I've worked on in the news or even physically on the street (having done a real estate seat). Not only does AG work nationally and internationally, but each office cares about its local businesses as well, which I really like.