Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Leathes Prior

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Leathes Prior

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘It has an excellent reputation in East Anglia and is known to really care about/put a great effort into its trainees’, ‘insight from the vacation scheme and the office atmosphere’, ‘I knew the firm had a good reputation for sociability both inside and outside work’, ‘my experience on the vacation scheme – fee earners and other staff were very friendly and happy to give as much time as they could’

Best thing about the firm? ‘It takes a very hands-on approach to training and encourages you to be directly involved in matters and in contact with clients throughout’, ‘excellent supervision and training – all fee-earners take the time to train us’, ‘everyone is friendly and there doesn’t seem to be a hierarchy. Partners will often come out with us on a Friday night!’, ‘the level of trust that supervisors place in trainees to be responsible for real client files and work’, ‘the social side – I can’t wait for the pubs to reopen as this is where you will find us on a Friday night!’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Feedback can be inconsistent. There are moments where the focus on making sure that something is styled to the fee-earner overshadows other aspects of the work’, ‘some teams are quite small and occasionally work can pile up’, ‘probably the pay; other firms in Norwich pay their trainees more’, ‘there is some disconnect between areas of the firm due to being in different buildings’, ‘I would like to be paid more’, ‘it can be hard to get to know colleagues in different departments’

Best moment? ‘Handing back a piece of work and my supervisor not having made any changes to it’, ‘receiving good feedback from clients – there is no feeling like it’, ‘being given my own matter to work on from the beginning of the transaction to the end’, ‘the remote team Christmas party, which I arranged. The feedback was great and I had a lovely evening with everyone’, ‘being involved in the completion of a big corporate deal in my last seat’, ‘getting positive feedback on witness statements I drafted – it was really rewarding’

Worst moment? ‘Late-night bundling’, ‘struggling to stay motivated whilst working from home’, ‘I made a filing error with the court, which caused inconvenience to both parties. I was frustrated with myself’, ‘spending hours photocopying documents in my real estate seat’, ‘having to adapt to the constantly-changing Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the government and how this changed the working environment’

The Lex 100 verdict on Leathes Prior

A Lex 100 Winner in a formidable seven categories – living up to expectations, quality of work, client contact, work/life balance, social life, inclusivity and supervisor approachability, East Anglian Leathes Prior has an excellent reputation for training. As one trainee puts it, ‘it delivered the whole package: supportive training, a wider engagement with the legal community, and an active social scene’. With a strong emphasis on training, Leathes Prior ‘give trainees a lot of responsibility from day one and you get to experience a wide range of tasks, including actual technical pieces of work rather than just admin’. The whole contract is ‘a more hands-on experience. A lot of my peers are doing basic work and not really given the opportunity to get stuck in’. The firm’s culture is evident: ‘truly the most welcoming and supportive work environment I have ever experienced or heard of. You really get the impression that everyone has your best interests at heart and wants to help you to succeed’. While some trainees say the pay could match other firms in Norwich, they generally struggle to fault the firm. With a culture to rival any other, a superb reputation in the region attracting top levels of work, and with excellent training and support, Leathes Prior is hard to beat.

The firm: Leathes Prior is a leading East Anglian full-service law firm providing a comprehensive legal service to a variety of organisations and private clients, both locally and nationwide. Familiarity and mutual support across the firm create the ideal environment to cultivate creative ideas, turn them into reality and unlock each individual’s potential.

The clients: CVS (UK) Ltd; Angling Direct; Suffolk New College; Rainbird Technologies; Alex Albon; Samurai International Sportswear; British Horseracing Authority; The Great Hospital; Norwich University of the Arts; Norfolk Broads Direct.

A day in the life of... Nick Price, trainee, Leathes Prior

Nick Price, Leathes Prior

Departments to date: Commercial property, corporate and commercial

University: UEA

Degree: Law, 1st

It feels rather odd setting out my own day in the life as a trainee solicitor after having read many of these myself during the vacation scheme and training contract application process. I personally found these insights to be of great value in trying to understand trainee tasks at various firms and generally just to see what I could be doing!

By way of background, I’m a few months into my second seat in Leathes Prior’s corporate and commercial team. I began trainee life in the commercial property sphere in September 2019, shortly after graduating from the nearby University of East Anglia. Contrary to normal practice, Leathes Prior gave me the option to start my training contract early alongside studying the LPC in Cambridge. Although a challenge in itself, this illustrates the confidence and trust that the firm, and its training principal Dan Chapman, places in its trainees.

I usually start the day by reviewing any new emails with a cup of coffee in hand. My supervisor and I then have a general catch up before discussing what I have on at the moment and any impending deadlines.

After that, it’s down to business. I have a suite of documents that I need to prepare further to a matter that my supervisor has copied me into the emails for. Preparing first drafts of ancillary documents is a typical trainee task in the corporate and commercial team. It is also one of the jobs that I enjoy the most as it requires a good deal of thinking about the transaction and ensuring all moving parts are recorded in the necessary documents. This takes up a large part of my morning and after finishing it I record my time on our case management system.

A quick break to refill on coffee and then I re-check my to-do list and see that there is also an engagement letter to prepare as soon as possible so that we can begin working on a matter for a new client. It is important to ensure that the firm’s engagement letter accurately sets out what we will and will not do for the client, as it forms the basis of our contract with them.

Having finished the engagement letter, I email another trainee from my intake at the firm to see if they want to grab a bite to eat. We’re able to catch up over lunch and walk through the picturesque Cathedral Close, in which our offices are situated.

I then return to the office ahead of sitting in on a conference call with my supervisor. I’ve been asked to make a detailed note of the call as it pertains to an ongoing share sale that Leathes Prior is representing the sellers in. The call lasts for a number of hours and involves going through the warranties (statements of fact) being given by the seller in the share purchase agreement in relation to their business. Having scanned in my attendance note so that it is on the case management system, I then set about starting to prepare the disclosure letter, a key document produced by the seller’s solicitor in the acquisition of the business.

My time drafting the disclosure letter is cut short by our weekly team meeting. These are usually relatively informal catch-ups where everyone reveals what they have on and whether they have capacity to take on more work. I find that it’s usually also a good time to offer to help with any of the work that fee-earners have on.

After the team meeting, I update my to-do list with the tasks I need to focus on in the next week and then set about logging off so that I can make it to the pub! Each Friday, a large number of Leathes Prior publicans flock to the nearest watering hole to wind down and catch up with each other. The combination of such a vibrant social scene and challenging work life is a key factor behind my happiness to train at Leathes Prior.

About the firm

Senior partner: Paul Warman

Management committee: Dan Chapman, Richard Guthrie, Darren Bowen, Alisdair Douglas

Other offices: Four offices in total, all in Norwich city centre.

Who we are: Leathes Prior is a leading East Anglian firm operating from offices in the picturesque Cathedral Close and Tombland areas of Norwich.

What we do: Employment, corporate and commercial, litigation and dispute resolution, family, commercial property, residential conveyancing, wills, trusts and estates.

What we’re looking for: Our trainees are self-motivated and proactive with their learning. While academic qualifications are important to us, we also ensure the right fit with the firm.

What you’ll do: We aim to design training contracts according to the individual trainee solicitor. Our trainees normally complete four seats across the firm, spending six months in each seat.

Perks: Healthcare cash plan, employee assistance programme, free eye tests, free fruit, free railcard, discounted bus travel, subsidised city centre parking, pension based on full salary, interest-free LPC loan.

Diversity and inclusion