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 was known for investing a lot of time in trainees’; ‘good variety of practice areas’; ‘growing firm’; ‘I chose this firm after doing a vacation scheme in the summer – I was given the opportunity to work on real life cases and was made to feel part of the team from the beginning’; ‘for its friendly nature and the opportunity for lots of early responsibility’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Polite staff’; ‘focus on developing trainees’; ‘the firm places a real emphasis on work/life balance by offering trainees the opportunity to get involved in lots of social events’; ‘everyone is approachable, and this means you never feel that you cannot ask a question or ring up a colleague from another department when they cross over on a matter you’re working on’

Worst thing about the firm? You can at times feel swamped by the amount of work that needs to be done’; ‘the daily commute’; ‘the pay – trainees at Leathes Prior are paid less in comparison with other firms in Norwich’; ‘different teams sit in different buildings which means it can be difficult to get to know everyone’

Best moment? ‘Being sent flowers from a client even though I had only been here a couple of months’; ‘being the main point of contact on a matter I was more or less able to run by myself’; ‘being given my own work to handle. The fee earner supervising the matter was always happy to answer my questions and so I didn’t feel out of my depth, or that I would be left scrambling’

Worst moment? ‘Juggling competing workloads’; ‘spending two days photocopying documents’; ‘spending far longer than I should have on a report to the client because I initially misunderstood the matter’; ‘completing a bit of work for one fee earner and trivial things being changed, then completing work for another fee earner and different trivial bits being changed!’

The Lex 100 verdict on Leathes Prior

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.

The verdict

‘Known for investing a lot of time in trainees’, Norwich’s Leathes Prior is a ‘growing firm with a diverse range of practice areas’. ‘The firm has a fantastic reputation within the local and regional community, but also has a client base much further afield which is not typical for a firm of its size’ enthused one recruit. Trainees are ‘encouraged to network from day one’ and are ‘given the opportunity to work on real-life cases’, with reports of ‘taking phone calls from clients in my first week’ not uncommon. Leathes Prior offers flexible training and ‘works with you to find your strengths and weaknesses, and therefore the seats you might like to pursue’. A social life which is ‘second to none’ has earned the firm a Lex 100 Winner award; trainees love that staff ‘go to the pub together almost every Friday night’, which is ‘such a good way for all the departments to catch up’. Gripes included the pay, the separate buildings for different departments and the ‘ever-increasing demands from clients’ due to the firm’s growing nature which can lead to ‘points where things can become stressful and you feel a bit rushed’. Moreover, ‘managing some clients’ expectations can be tricky, especially when they want things done immediately’. Thankfully, stand-out moments such as ‘going to court’, ‘attending a mediation in London’ and ‘handling the initial phone call with the client, completing the drafting work they required, and talking through their follow-up questions’ were compensations. For a firm where ‘everyone genuinely talks to each other and works together, be they a partner, fee earner or key support staff’, consider Leathes Prior.

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: William Riley

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