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? ‘The firm’s excellent reputation for client contact’; ‘the firm’s open-minded approach to recruitment appealed to me’; ‘I was made to feel part of the team at the assessment day’; ‘the guarantee of hands-on work’; ‘the small trainee intake means trainees are offered more responsibility from early on’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The fact that you can approach senior members of staff for help and guidance’; ‘I feel that I am well supported’; ‘high-quality work’; ‘how friendly and approachable everyone is’; ‘everyone is supportive’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The pay, especially compared to other roles in the local area’; ‘the outdated offices’; ‘the firm needs to do more for diversity, although this is improving’; ‘the offices are hot in the summer and really cold in the winter’

Best moment? ‘Being given my own caseload to run’; ‘having a lot of client contact’; ‘completing a significant piece of work with limited supervision’; ‘receiving good feedback’; ‘a partner complimenting my work’; ‘winning an immigration appeal hearing’; ‘attending a final hearing’; ‘having my work come back with few amendments’

Worst moment? ‘Having my work red-penned and being offered little advice on how to improve’; ‘making avoidable, trivial mistakes’; ‘occasional tensions in the workplace’; ‘feeling stressed and having low confidence at times’

The Lex 100 verdict on Leathes Prior

The firm: Leathes Prior is one of East Anglia’s leading law firms offering a full range of legal services to organisations and individuals in Norfolk and beyond. The firm’s offering has stood the test of time (over 140 years to be specific), but it is also always looking at ways to develop to ensure it is providing the best possible service to its diverse and loyal client base.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Corporate and commercial; Crime: fraud; Crime: general

The verdict

Leathes Prior stood out to trainees as a ‘full -service firm that had a regional focus’. Many chose the firm because it is ‘located in central Norwich’, and because it had ‘a regional as opposed to national focus’. Another motive for applying was ‘the work/life balance’ and that Leathes Prior is very sociable. With a ‘work hard/play hard attitude’ and regular ‘social events’, it’s no wonder that the firm is a Lex 100 Winner for its social life. ‘The responsibility given to trainees from the beginning’ also impressed recruits, providing ‘the right balance of responsibility and autonomy’. Respondents benefit from ‘lots of client contact’ and feel that they are given ‘greater exposure than trainees at some larger firms’. The ‘accessibility of everyone at the firm’ is made easier by the fact that colleagues are ‘so friendly and approachable’, which is confirmed by the firm’s view that ‘success begins and ends with its employees’. That said, there were complaints about the salary and the building, with one recruit suggesting ‘the offices could be more modern’. ‘Collating information for a 2,000-page bundle of documents’ and ‘making avoidable, trivial mistakes’ upset trainees. But, ‘being trusted with a large and varied caseload’ was valued by many. Also a Lex 100 Winner for quality of work, Leathes Prior offers applicants high levels of responsibility and client contact to ‘support personal development’. If a regional firm which offers excellent work and a great social life appeals to you, apply to Leathes Prior.

A day in the life of… Anneke Micallef-Eynaud, trainee, Leathes Prior

Anneke Micallef-Eynaud, Leathes Prior

Departments to date: Employment, litigation and dispute resolution

University: Durham

Degree: Philosophy and Theology, 2(1), joint honours

I started my training contract with Leathes Prior in September 2018, and am nearing the end of my second seat, in the litigation and dispute resolution team. This department covers a wide range of contentious work including commercial litigation, property disputes, construction disputes, insolvency and criminal defence work. I sit with partner David Richards, but I also do a lot of work for the rest of the team. The small intake of trainees every year means that you are given the opportunity to be involved in a wide range of work, as well as being entrusted with early responsibility.

I begin each day by checking my emails. Today there is not much to go through so I can get to work straight away. My supervisor and I briefly discuss my ‘to do’ list and priorities. Then I prepare and send my weekly email to the team with the week’s key deadlines and court dates.

Next on my list is drafting documents for a client who came to see us last week. The client has a hearing next week for which there are several documents that need to be prepared. I attended, took notes at the client’s meeting and discussed the matter with my supervisor. First on my list is a witness statement, so I research the relevant Civil Procedure Rules that I will be referring to, and make a note of some appropriate case law I may want to include. I review the relevant documents, the second batch of which luckily arrived in this morning’s post, and then begin the work.

Shortly before lunchtime, I have two phone calls with potential clients in quick succession. One is regarding defamation and the other regarding a potential clinical negligence case. I speak to the individuals, take details, and discuss their evidence and the work that we could undertake. I follow this up with quick chats with the solicitors who have conduct over these matters and then send follow-up emails to the potential new clients with our terms of engagement.

Now that I have built up an appetite, it is time to grab a quick lunch. I go for a short walk and pick up some food along the way. Then I return to the office, as today is busy and I want to make the most of my time. I continue working on the witness statement for a little while and then turn my attention to an application notice for strike out for the same client.

Partner and head of the team Mike Barlow pays me a visit to ask whether I would help him put together the enclosures which we will be sending to counsel. I review the documents that have been prepared so far and then look through the client’s file on our case management system. I sort through the correspondence between the parties and the documents that we have received and add these to the enclosures to be sent to counsel.

I finish this work just in time to pack up and head to a seminar on mental capacity and litigants, organised by the Norwich & Norfolk Law Society. Leathes Prior is great at offering and advertising events, both social and educational. Several times a week, I receive emails about events that are being held in Norwich, from quizzes and cocktail-making classes to networking breakfasts and seminars. Most Fridays, members of the firm will go for drinks after work, and several socials are organised throughout the year.

When I applied for a training contract at Leathes Prior, I found these ‘day in the life’ articles very helpful in gaining insight into the firm. I do hope this article can do the same for you. If you are looking for a training contract where you will be continually challenged, involved in valuable work and given client contact from your first day, Leathes Prior is the firm for you.

About the firm

Senior partner: William Riley

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

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: We are a full-service firm providing legal advice to a wide variety of commercial and private clients, with specialist niche offerings in sports law, agriculture, education, equine and technology.

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 compile training programmes to meet the wishes of individual trainees. The normal pattern is four six-month seats. All trainees work closely with the partners and are given responsibility and exposure to clients from day one.

Perks: Our trainees receive the full benefits package available to our staff which includes: pension (full salary), healthcare cash plan, free eye tests, employee assistance programme, free fruit, discounts on travel (local buses and a free railcard), discounts at Theatre Royal, subsidised city centre parking, and the opportunity to join a variety of sporting and social events. We also close at Christmas!

Sponsorship: Financial support by way of an interest-free loan to be used towards the LPC is available.