Written by Chris Willows – Trainee Solicitor
Chris is a first seat Trainee Solicitor currently sitting in our Private Client Team. In this blog we hear from him about what you could expect on an average day as a trainee Private Client Solicitor:
I arrive at the office. My first task of the day is to check any emails which may have come in overnight. Following this, I can prioritise what I need to do today. Private client work is about management; some probate files may last a year or even longer and so it is important to constantly keep track of any developments. A probate file may be quiet for a couple of months and then suddenly need attention. Shortly after my arrival at the office I also like to make a note of any meetings I have that day so that I can plan my work around them. The half hour period between 8.30am and 9.00am is also a good time to catch up on any administrative tasks before the phones start ringing and emails come in.
The office opens and the day officially begins! I have been handed a probate file by the Head of Department and it requires immediate attention. It has come to light that there are unpaid water bills on the deceased’s property. I therefore have to phone the management company to ascertain the details and seek to resolve the situation. Once off the phone I contact a stockbroker as the deceased had a variety of certificated shares. It is necessary for me to contact a number of stockbrokers in order to get the best deal for our client. I write attendance notes for all of the calls for future reference.
Following a client meeting the day before, I am now tasked with drafting a Will. Will drafting is a major part of my job and something which is considered the ‘bread and butter’ of private client work. Whilst drafting the Will, I note that addresses are missing for a couple of the beneficiaries. I therefore call the client to find the missing information. Once I have finished drafting the Will, I pass the draft to my supervisor who will check it before it is sent to the client for their approval.
My phone rings – it is reception and they have had two clients walk into the office with their drafts Wills. The fee earner dealing with the matter is unavailable so I agree to see them instead (I had previously done some work on the drafts and so knew the client matter well). I talk through the draft Wills with the clients and they suggest a couple of amendments they wish to make. They also ask about Inheritance Tax (IHT) implications and I advise them accordingly. It is important to keep up to date with any developments in relation to IHT as there tend to be yearly changes.
I am out of the meeting and back at my desk (making a mug of tea on the way!). Whilst away from my desk I have had several emails, including one from a colleague who would like to me to carry out some research. He has asked me to research the new Civil Partnership Regulations which have recently come into force. This requires me to use a variety of sources from legal handbooks and case law, to the tabloid press. I’ll collate the information I find into one document which can be used as a guide when I present my findings at the next department meeting.
Lunchtime! I usually finish my administrative tasks such as cheque requests at the start of lunch to ensure they aren’t looming over me throughout the afternoon. After eating my lunch, I pop out with a couple of the other trainees for a wander around town.
As a trainee in the Private Client Department, one of my main tasks is monitoring any deputyship management cases that are ongoing. I tend to support one member of the team who has a variety of clients with complex care needs. My job involves the day to day running of such files. My tasks include taking calls from clients to liaising with social workers and doctors. Issues on such files can spring up at any time of the day and can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours to resolve. Today I have spent the period between 2.00pm-3.00pm on one such file.
My supervisor and I leave the office to attend upon a client in a care home. Visiting clients in their homes gives me a special insight into the work we do and illustrates the difference private client solicitors can make to individual’s lives, particularly elderly clients. This visit relates to signing our Terms of Business and taking instructions on a property sale.
I return to the office from my client visit. Whilst away I have received a voicemail from a client for whom I have been involved in drafting a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). She has a couple of questions relating to the draft LPA and I advise accordingly. Where I am not sure of the answer, I tell her that I will liaise with the fee earner involved and get back to her.
After tidying up a few last minute bits, I have come to the end of another fulfilling (and tiring!) day as a trainee solicitor in the Private Client Department.
For further information, help and guidance on being a Trainee Solicitor, visit https://www.sra.org.uk/trainees/