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... James Walker, trainee, Leathes Prior

James Walker, Leathes Prior

Departments to date: Dispute resolution, Wills, trusts and probate, Employment

I started my training contract with Leathes Prior in September 2020 and am currently in the middle of my third seat in the employment team, having previously sat in our dispute resolution and wills, trusts and probate teams. The employment team assists clients with both contentious and non-contentious matters ranging from employment disputes and tribunal representation, to contracts of employment, settlement agreements and general employment advice on day-to-day workplace issues. The seat is varied and fast-paced and, as in every department in the firm, the team entrusts trainees with early responsibility such that they quickly gain wide experience (and confidence).

I typically start my day by checking my emails and having a general catch up with my supervisor where we discuss my ongoing tasks and agree which should be prioritised.

After that, I receive a new enquiry from an employer who is having difficulties managing a problematic employee. I ask the client for some further information to explore their issues and discuss some of the ways we might be able to help before arranging a meeting for the new client with a member of the team. After the call, I explain the enquiry to my supervisor and brief the solicitor who will conduct the meeting.

I return to my desk to finalise a contract of employment with some unusual elements requiring bespoke drafting. I had previously sent it to my supervisor for feedback and we have since sat down together to discuss how the draft could be improved. Especially where trainees are given challenging tasks, this kind of one-to-one feedback is a really valuable investment in your professional development.

I take a quick break to get myself and some colleagues a drink (and some birthday cake) and then spend the rest of my morning sitting in on a meeting with a client to discuss the prospects of their tribunal claim for harassment and bullying in the workplace. This is a great opportunity for me to get some client-facing experience and to see how a solicitor thinks on their feet and advises first-hand. The firm does not shy away from introducing trainees to clients and they are even trusted to meet with clients on their own towards the end of their seats, if they are comfortable to do so. This instils trainees with the confidence to present themselves well to clients and start taking on more responsibility.

Having finished the meeting, I grab a bite to eat with a friend from another department. Every job comes with its own challenges but maintaining good relationships with colleagues and working in a mutually supportive environment means you are never afraid to ask for help if you need it. I have always enjoyed the picturesque setting of our office in the Cathedral Close; we take a quick walk past the Georgian properties across the green and return to the office.

I spend much of the afternoon drafting a letter for the client we met with earlier which lays out the various claims they could bring against their employer as well as our practical advice for resolving the problems they are having at work. I also have a bundle of documents to collate for a hearing next week, a less strenuous task which is welcome as the end of the day approaches!

Finally, every fortnight we hold an informal team meeting to catch up on everyone’s workloads and review some of the latest updates in the law. Trainees are tasked with preparing these updates and, having gathered some articles on major developments and interesting cases, I present these to the team. Once the team is suitably dazzled by my updates (!), I prepare my to-do list for next week and we head to the local pub, as is standard on Friday evenings. It’s a common sentiment among trainees that the vibrant social scene and friendly atmosphere at the firm are its biggest draws.

Leathes Prior typically takes on a relatively small intake of trainees each year, and, as a result, trainees not only get focused supervision and feedback but are also able to get involved in a really wide range of work and gain broad experience. Naturally therefore any summary of a day in the life of a trainee feels a little incomplete to me, given that no two days are ever the same and there are always new and interesting opportunities to avail of. That being the case, hopefully this article offers a little insight into trainee life to those aspiring to join such a wonderful place to work.

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