My first seat was with Institutional Property, supervised by Simon Livesey. Before starting I was unsure what to expect from a department with such an enigmatic name. However, I quickly realised that its work goes to the heart of what the firm is about – property. Like much of the firm, the work in this seat is generally defined by its clients. These tend to be land-owning entities (such as commercial institutions, charities, and Crown bodies) who do many things with their land but rarely sell it. As a result, the department deals with a lot of commercial leases and licenses, and occasionally other issues such as wayleaves, and grants and releases of easements. The seat also involved a flavour of the infrastructure and parliamentary work undertaken more heavily elsewhere in the firm. This made for a very interesting seat and added a further layer of understanding and practical experience to the property law I had studied on the LPC.
My second seat was in Property Litigation and Dispute Resolution, supervised by Emma Chadwick. The team are excellent in their field, and cover a wide variety of areas from telecoms to ecclesiastical property disputes. I was able to assist with a range of topics including claims for rectification of leases, forfeiture, residential possession claims, lease renewal disputes, and co-ownership disputes. The seat offered a range of litigation experience, including conferences with counsel, attending court hearings, preparing court forms and statements of case, settlement negotiation, and mediation. I was also given responsibility for a number of straightforward matters, whilst closely supervised, which helped me to gain experience in the day-to-day practice requirements of being a solicitor. Although the seat was challenging in its workload and variety of topics, it was an extremely enjoyable and invigorating experience.
I have just started my third seat in the firm’s Ecclesiastical Law department, supervised by Aiden Hargreaves-Smith. I applied to the firm with an interest in church law and so am pleased to have been offered the opportunity to spend six months in this department. Three days in, it has been interesting so far!
Throughout my training, I have also enjoyed participating in the firm’s CSR activities. I currently volunteer at the Rent Arrears Clinic run with the Southwark Citizens Advice Bureaux, which won the 2017 ‘Best Corporate Partnership of the Year’ award at the annual Southwark Stars volunteer awards. I also organised our biennial Summer Art Exhibition this year with two other trainees. As part of the event, we held a raffle and a silent auction of the majority of the works donated and raised over £1,000 for the firm’s Charity of the Year, Dementia UK. I also organise the firm’s Running Club, which meets most weeks for an evening run, and attends occasional race events during the year. These have each been an excellent way to get to know people from across different departments and to contribute to the social side to the firm.
In general, one of the real benefits of being a Trainee at Winckworth Sherwood is that you are generally not treated as ‘only’ a Trainee. The workload and responsibility is proportionate to your experience, but beyond that you are respected as an important part of the firm’s framework. This has meant that my contribution has been valued, and I have been encouraged to treat each seat as an opportunity to prepare myself for life post-qualification.