A (pre-lockdown) day in the life of…
Fiona Shajko, fourth-seat trainee, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
Departments to date: Corporate (M&A and Private Equity), Litigation, Employment and Technology Companies Group
University: University of Warwick
Degree: Philosophy, Politics and Economics, 2(1)
9:20 am: I arrive at a school in East London where I am going to deliver a workshop to year 8 students on the meaning of ‘consent’. Orrick partners with the Schools Consent Project, one of the many pro bono opportunities available at the firm. It is the third or fourth workshop that I have volunteered to give. I keep coming back to do them as it is a really challenging and rewarding experience.
11:20 am: I check my emails to see if anything important has come in. We had requested an extension of time from the Commercial Court for one of the Litigation matters I am working on and I am pleased to see that the Court had granted us extra time to file our Reply.
11:30 am: I go to the office of one of the associates in the arbitration team and, together, we go to see a senior associate to discuss and divide tasks. Tomorrow is our deadline to file the Statement of Defence to Counterclaim for a client in the Oil & Gas sector. I have been heavily involved in compiling the exhibits to this pleading and updating the index for both the factual exhibits and legal authorities, and I now have to focus on finalising this.
1:30 pm: I pop my head round the next door office, where one of the other first year trainees sits and we go out to grab some lunch. I usually sit in the kitchen and there are almost always other trainees who I can catch up with. When applying for training contracts, I particularly targeted firms with small intakes largely because I wanted the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with my colleagues.
2:15 pm: I send my supervisor my note of a meeting we had with a client last Friday afternoon, including a bullet-point list of the most important points. The meeting was to discuss the client’s document preservation obligations as well as a communications protocol for highly sensitive documents. The matter relates to an ongoing regulatory investigation as well as potential litigation. Trainees at Orrick get a lot more client contact and attend client meetings sooner than peers at other firms.
2:30 pm: I receive an email from the arbitration associate assigning various tasks to each of the juniors working on the matter (me and two associates). When approaching a deadline, it feels like no task is too small no matter the seniority of the lawyers; everyone is happy to work together to get it over the line. I am asked to insert the exhibit references to the Statement of Defence to Counterclaim.
3:20 pm: the partner on the arbitration matter queries one of the exhibits, because there doesn’t seem to be any text in the body of the email. It turns out it was a technical error that I could not have known about, but it now means we have to check all of the exhibits to make sure this has not happened elsewhere.
4:40 pm: the senior associate on the arbitration matter schedules an impromptu catch-up meeting in the partner’s office so we can all touch base and ensure we are on track. Trainees at Orrick are immediately included as part of the team and these catch-ups really help to gain an understanding of the overall case / transaction.
5:45 pm: a second year trainee comes to my room for a quick chat with me and my supervisor. She had heard that I had done a presentation to the corporate group in my last seat about Environmental, Social and Governance factors and asked if I could share the presentation with her as she was doing some work on the same topic. A benefit of being part of a smaller office is that it is easier to share knowledge and work collaboratively.
6:30 pm: I receive an email from a litigation associate attaching the skeleton arguments for an ongoing Trial in which we are representing Ernst & Young. I have been invited to shadow at the trial on Friday and I am really excited about it as I will be watching the claimant’s cross-examination. I won’t have time to read the skeleton arguments this evening so I make a note to read them on Thursday.
6:40 pm: my supervisor sends a revised draft of the communications protocol based on our meeting with the client and asks me and an associate for any further comments. I give one or two suggestions based on discussions from the meeting. My experience so far has been that partners and associates genuinely value the trainees’ opinions and input.
6:50 pm: I create a table setting out the various documents and data sources identified with the client and the status of each one, in terms of whether adequate steps have been taken by the client in order to identify and preserve those documents, as discussed in Friday’s meeting, and circulate internally to those who attended the meeting.
7:30 pm: I review my to-do list and leave work feeling confident that we are well prepared for tomorrow’s arbitration deadline.