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Penningtons Manches: Trainee Solicitor Diary

If you’re interested in what it’s like being a trainee at a top law firm, look no further than Eva’s diary of a day in the first year of her training contract.


Trainee: Eva McHale, First-year trainee, Penningtons Manches LLP 
Departments to date: Family
University: Bristol
Degree: Law

9.00am:  I arrive at the office and grab some breakfast before settling down at my desk and checking mine, and my supervising Partner’s, calendar for the day. New events and client meetings are added regularly and I like to ensure that I am fully abreast of any matters before attending them; you never know when a client might direct a question at an otherwise unsuspecting trainee!

9.20am: After finishing my all-important porridge, I peruse my emails and update my to-do list. The most pressing issue to deal with today is reverting to a client regarding the financial disclosure that her husband has provided in the run-up to the first hearing in her divorce and financial remedy proceedings. Many of our clients are high-net-worth-individuals and consequently their finances are often complex and substantial; my GCSE maths is definitely put to the test! I consider the necessary documents, draft a reply to the client and send it to my supervising Partner for her comments and approval. The Partner gives me the freedom to develop my own drafting style, but it is important that she checks all of my work for legal accuracy and content, especially given the sensitivity of family matters.

10.30am: The other Family trainee and I catch up about the training day we had yesterday. The Learning and Development team invited all of the firm’s trainees to take part in a “Presentation Skills and Personal Impact” session, delivered by two theatre actresses. It was a very interesting (for want of a better word!) day involving lots of preparation tips for important (daunting) meetings and presentations (think chanting and power posing), as well as pitching to our peers to become the next Sadiq Khan. It was extremely helpful and demonstrates Penningtons Manches’ commitment to developing its trainees as creative and confident people as well as lawyers.

10.45am:  Another senior Partner in the team asks if I can draft a costs estimate for a client on a child abduction case. I attended a directions hearing at the High Court on this matter a couple of months ago and it is now proceeding to a Final Hearing. It was extremely interesting being involved in a children case with a huge international element, and is reflective of the stimulating and challenging work that is done in this department.

12.15pm:  A client calls in relation to his application to adopt his step-son. He asks me to walk him through the notification documents that he is required to send to his local council. I cannot answer one of the questions without the help of the council, and so contact them before reverting to the client. I have been liaising with clients from the first day of my training contract, and enjoy the responsibility that I am trusted with in this area.


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1.00pm:  Today we have a lunchtime Family marketing meeting with the firm’s Business Development team. We speak about networking opportunities and the promotion of our department’s people, expertise and brand. Trainees are expected to be involved in the discussions, and are given the scope to get involved on an integral level. This type of work affords a different perspective of the firm and is a great opportunity to develop my commercial and business skills within the legal domain.  

2.15pm:  After taking a quick stroll in the sunshine with some of the other trainees to refresh ourselves, I get back to my desk. I have asked our Head of Department if I can be given a copy of a final order that she helped draft after parties settled at a two-week Final Hearing last week. This case has been ongoing for over a year and I was lucky that my Family seat fell at a time it was reaching its culmination. Attending the Royal Courts of Justice to witness one of the parties being cross-examined by an esteemed female barrister has definitely been one of the highlights of my seat! I consider the order made and discuss my concluding thoughts with the Partner.

3.00pm: I am attending a client meeting with an Associate in 30 minutes and she asks me to remind her of a particular fact about the case. I peruse the note made of the previous meeting and report back to her. This case involves highly sensitive and confidential divorce and children elements and I am reminded of the professionalism expected of trainees. During the meeting, I ensure that I take a verbatim note of the Associate’s comprehensive advice given to the client.

4.30pm:  I dictate my meeting notes immediately after the meeting; this case is very fast-paced and it is important to have an accurate depiction of it on file.  

6.15pm:  Tonight, the firm’s Netball team “PennBallerz”, have a game against another city law firm in which we hope to continue our undefeated streak! When I began my training contract at Penningtons Manches, our London office didn’t have a Netball team, but, with the help of our Business Development team and Sports and Social committee, I managed to form and fund a team to enter a local league. We have a great support system at the firm and are encouraged to show initiative in all areas.

Before I log off, I make my to-do list for the next day.


Read our other Penningtons Manches Case Study!

A Day in the Life at Penningtons Manches
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