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Life as a trainee

Mandeep Mattu is a Third Year Associate

"Similar to my training years, I've found being a solicitor at Collyer Bristow has involved me taking on responsibility, close client contact and consistently learning and developing. Of course, there are some notable differences; namely I am now the fee earner on files and so the first port of call for clients. The quality of work has increased and I am responsible for drafting and negotiating documents myself. On qualification, I was by no means thrown in at the deep end; I took on as much as I was comfortable with and if I ever need any help or advice, I'm part of a supportive team who have an open door policy!

Before I qualified, I was asked what area of property I wanted to specialise in and I requested working in both residential and commercial so that I could get a mix of work and establish my preference. I am very pleased to say that Collyer Bristow catered to my requests and I have gained and continue to gain the experience and knowledge I hoped for. All associates are allocated a principal partner, with whom we arrange meetings with to discuss progress, any concerns and goals. Similarly, our HR department organise regular get-togethers to discuss how we are getting on. I can confidently say moving from being a trainee to a solicitor was a smooth adjustment."

Sophie Laing is a Third Year Associate

"In September 2014 I completed my training contract at Collyer Bristow and I qualified into the defamation and reputation management team within the dispute resolution department. I am working on a variety of libel, privacy and harassment cases with a particular focus on the firm's phone hacking and cyber investigation work. I also do more general commercial litigation.

Dispute resolution involves careful research, hard work (often under intense pressure) and the clear expression of complex ideas. Added to this is the satisfaction of helping individual clients to resolve their difficulties by reaching practical solutions to real problems. It is intellectually demanding combining as it does clear analysis and the need to keep abreast of changes in the law. It is also of real practical benefit to others.

The dispute resolution department at Collyer Bristow has a wide range of private and corporate clients with a variety of different legal needs. The department gives a high priority to establishing and maintaining close relationships with its clients. It is large enough to provide a wide spectrum of legal experience, but is not so large as to run the risk of losing sight of the needs of individuals."

Nichola Leach is a Second Year Associate

"I qualified into the Media and privacy team in September 2015 following the completion of my training contract at Collyer Bristow. Prior to qualification I completed two seats in Dispute resolution, one seat in the Family department and one in Corporate and commercial.

As a media and privacy lawyer day to day work includes libel and privacy cases, in particular the phone hacking litigation. I also deal with harassment cases as part of the firm's Cyber Investigation Unit. Media and privacy sits within the wider department of Dispute resolution, and as part of this I also work on general commercial litigation cases which include breach of contract and shareholder disputes. Dispute resolution has both private and corporate clients. Direct contact with clients is encouraged, with Associates often being the first point of contact for many clients.

There is no doubt that a career as a solicitor will be both intellectually challenging, and at times demanding, as we work in an ever-changing legal landscape. Despite this Collyer Bristow works to ensure it provides training and supervision to all its solicitors, in particular during the important transition from trainee to newly qualified solicitor. Across the firm there is a supportive and collegiate atmosphere, which provides the ideal surroundings in which to develop. There are numerous firm-wide social events, such as pub quizzes, which assist with and encourage integration into the firm and provide a welcoming environment."

Nicole Phillips is a First Year Associate

"In September 2016 I completed my training contract at Collyer Bristow, qualifying into the Family team. During my training contract I spent six months in each of the Real Estate, Employment, Property Litigation and Family teams. 

Reflecting on my time at Collyer Bristow, it would certainly be true to say that I have been involved in a wide variety of work. Each day as a CB trainee is different from the last, and while the element of unpredictability that comes with being a trainee at any firm can be a little panic inducing at times, it certainly makes the job a varied and an exciting one.

While in the Real Estate team, I was fortunate enough to attend the fittingly stylish offices of several architects' firms, pitching to be instructed on the building of a new tower block in Central London. While in the Employment team (within the Dispute Resolution department), I was working on a fascinating case involving an employee with a number of discrimination claims. Quite unusually, given the very serious nature allegations and the importance of maintaining confidentiality, I accompanied the client to a grievance hearing that took place. I felt incredibly lucky to witness such a significant and sensitive meeting first hand. It also provided an interesting insight into the legal process employers are required by law to undertake. Now, in the Family team, I have already attended a number of interesting court hearings. Most of these have taken place at the Central London Family Court which is (very conveniently for the Family trainee), only 2 minutes' walk from the office. These are just a few examples of the opportunities that you might be presented with as trainee at Collyer Bristow.

As well as doing a wide range of work across the firm, CB also employs a wide range of people. There is a feeling of openness and approachability throughout the firm, which makes for a very enjoyable working environment. CB's size and its fairly modest intake undoubtedly works in the trainees' favour, and you certainly won't feel like a nameless face here; we actually have a "wall of faces" on the CB intranet which everyone makes full use of, so I can guarantee that you won't get lost in the crowd."

Dominic Cole is a Second Year Trainee

"I am a third seat trainee currently sitting in the Property department covering both residential and commercial property matters. It is a busy department and I have a high and varied workload, including a number of files which I am running myself, albeit with supervision. I have just moved from the Tax and estate planning department which is one of Collyer Bristow's biggest single discipline teams. Whilst there I worked on a variety of matters including UK and international trusts, wills, probate and general tax planning. Tax and estate planning can get quite technical but the team have a very good training program in place and I therefore felt like I could make a valuable contribution to the department.

My first seat was in Real estate litigation, however dispute resolution trainees are expected to cover work across disciplines so I worked on disputes involving property, construction, employment, trusts, intellectual property, finance and general commercial matters. I was asked to appear before a Master in the Queen's Bench Division within the Royal Courts of Justice which was a good opportunity to brush up on my advocacy skills.

Whilst it is easy to dismiss as a cliché, being a trainee at Collyer Bristow really does afford you early access to clients and high quality work. I have undertaken my fair proportion of fairly basic but vital tasks, but a significant amount of my time is taken up with client meetings, research tasks and generally progressing the client's instructions.

Trainees are not expected to be seen and not heard and I have yet to attend a meeting with a Client where I have not been asked to contribute- something which I think demonstrates the value the firm puts on their trainees. I have attended some very interesting meetings with Counsel in addition to coordinating advice from different departments in a complicated cross-disciplinary matter.

The size of Collyer Bristow allows you to train in an environment where there is a good mix of complex work, whilst everyone still knows everyone else's names. The partners and associates are always willing to provide help where required, and everything is made to feel like a team effort.

Frequent networking and social events serve to improve your connections inside and outside of the firm, with particular highlights being the quiz and the numerous client events in the firm's own art gallery."

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