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| 4 minutes read

A day in the life of a trainee solicitor - meet Ella Whelan

With the deadline for applying for our vacation scheme and training contract fast approaching, we thought we’d publish another "day in the life" from one of our current trainees at Stevens & Bolton.

I am a first-seat trainee, sitting in the employment, pensions and immigration (EPI) team. As our office is currently under renovations, I am working from home. Although I only had the first two weeks working in the office with my new team, there are still frequent meet ups and social events, so it never feels like you have gone too long without seeing someone face to face. We’re also looking forward to the newly refitted office opening in March. 

My day starts with checking emails and reviewing my to do list (I tend to write this the day before). Before my team meeting, I update any outstanding training records. During your training contract, the SRA requires that trainees complete training records. These records identify any work you have done during your time in that department, what skills have been utilised and finally what you have learned from the task. It is a good way for your supervisor to have oversight of your progress and aids career development.

In the EPI team, we have two weekly catch ups. One is centred around interesting matters we are working on and any pieces of information we think would be useful to report back on. The second meeting is where members of the team give updates on recent cases or new pieces of legislation. There are always new judgements to be aware of in employment so this is an excellent way to keep up to date. Today’s meeting is based on any interesting things the team wants to feed back on and I discussed a situation with a client regarding flexible working requests.

After the meeting, I make myself another coffee (needed as it is only a Tuesday!) and start with drafting a template settlement agreement for a client. Where possible, I tend to structure my day out in hourly chunks to ensure I keep focused. Once I have drafted for an hour, I join a call with a partner and client regarding a potential redundancy situation. Unfortunately, with the current economic climate, a substantial amount of my work has been assisting on advising clients with redundancies. Whilst it is never a nice thing to advise on, I always find joining calls really helpful from a training perspective. You experience first-hand how to give advice to clients and it refreshes your memory on topics you may have forgotten since the LPC. Afterwards, the partner calls me to discuss next steps and we talk about anything I was unsure of.

At lunch, I walk to my local gym. Having an hour and 15 minutes for lunch is great when you want to get outside for a walk or exercise. Sometimes it is difficult when working from home to completely switch off and take breaks (something you do more naturally when in the office because you grab lunch with other trainees or go to the kitchen for a coffee), so making sure I get outside at some point during the day helps with my focus and motivation for the afternoon. For the rest of the day, I finish the template settlement agreement I had been working on in the morning, using our precedent for guidance and calling the lawyer in charge for any assistance. I think one of the main attractions of S&B is how supportive and friendly everyone is. I never feel afraid to pick up the phone to someone if I am struggling or to ask for any feedback. This is essential for training purposes as it enables you to learn and reflect on the work you have done.

With the help of a partner in my team, I finish my day by writing an article for the website on a recent employment case on the without prejudice rule. I then send this for review to our knowledge lawyers. Drafting articles is a great way to improve written skills, as you need to be able to explain complicated cases  in a simple way and explain how a decision impacts clients. This is essential when writing advice notes to clients because too much legal jargon is confusing (it even confuses me!). At 6pm I log off and get ready to meet my friend for dinner.

My days can vary a great deal, particularly when I have more client calls or more non-chargeable work to be getting on with. I think what is very true for every day is I always feel involved in matters and, even if I am less busy, I check people’s calendars to see if I can join any client calls and assist. The amount of client contact you receive as a trainee at S&B is fantastic and something which I feel sets us apart from other firms. After working at the firm for over a year now (starting with my paralegal role), I could not recommend the firm enough. We are also increasing our intake from five to up to ten trainees, which means your chances of progressing to interview stage are that bit higher.

Guidance on how to apply can be found here, and the application form is here. If you have any other questions, reach out to people at the firm on LinkedIn as we are always happy to answer any questions you have.


trainee insights