Five months in…

I am now five months into my first seat in the litigation department and it feels like I am just about starting to get the hang of things although it has gone so quickly.  I think that I have been quite fortunate to sit in the banking and regulatory team in my first seat as it has enabled me to experience both aspects of the litigation work that Allen & Overy undertake, both traditional litigation cases and regulatory investigations.  It has been a pretty steep learning curve, not only in gaining an understanding of the cases that I have been working on and the law involved, but also getting used to working in a professional environment and developing the skills required of a trainee, such as legal drafting and research.

In my first seat I have undertaken a wide range of tasks.  For example,  I have spent a lot of my time doing is managing and reviewing documents.  Due to the nature of work that is involved in any litigation case, this is a common trainee task.  This includes both managing and reviewing documents received from the client that need to be disclosed to the opposing party in litigation, or to a regulator, or vice versa.  This is a very practical task which requires working with a number of teams within the department.

I have also increasingly had the opportunity to draft documents or sections of responses to regulators, often arising out of the work that I have been doing in reviewing documents.  This has been a task that I have found challenging as it requires understanding and applying Allen & Overy’s house drafting style and involves focusing on an area which, at university, you don’t really worry too much about.

I have also been researching, for example how a bank may make a contribution claim to researching the finer points of the Civil Procedure Rules.  A requirement for all the litigation trainees is to produce a research note on a rather complicated, unclear area of the law.  My task involved drafting a note on the potential claims that a fictional company may have against a bank for the mis-selling of derivative products.  Given the fact that the leading case on the matter ran to over 200 pages, I think I did quite well to keep my note to just under 20!

Although I have not yet had the chance to attend court with any of the cases that I have been working on, I have had the opportunity to undertake a court tour with Allen & Overy’s court clerk which was very useful, especially given that I had to file a bundle at court the week after.

Along side all of this, a trainees we have also been involved in a number of different training programmes focusing on other aspects and skills that we need to develop as commercial lawyers. These have focused on financial and business skills, how to negotiate a deal and how to develop business relationships.

And as I touched on in my last post, I have also been able to have a continued involvement in the pro bono and graduate recruitment work that Allen & Overy does.  I have also had the opportunity to assist in business development tasks for the litigation department, researching existing and potential clients.

As a popular question at any graduate recruitment event I have been to seems to be about hours I thought it would be a good idea to also talk a bit about them.  My hours over a normal week vary from day to day, however I usually get into the office between 9:00 and 9:30, and I leave between 7:30 and 8:30.  Of course there have been occasions where I have had to stay later, and I had a particularly busy period in the lead up to Christmas, however there are also times where I have left a little earlier, and there is no need for me to hang around the office if I have finished my tasks for that day. One advantage in litigation is that generally hours seem to be pretty consistent, avoiding the highs and lows that you may experience in a more transactional seat.  One advantage over university or the LPC is that I no longer spend my weekends working, or feeling guilty that I am not working.  The only time that I have really had to spend any time working over the weekend was during the trainee research task.

I have also just found out that my next seat will be in the Banking department, which I am looking forward to as it is one of the seats that I requested.  I will be sitting in the department which specialises in leveraged finance and it should be an interesting contrast to what I have been doing in my first six months.