Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Leathes Prior

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Leathes Prior

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Work/life balance’, ‘culture and welcoming nature’, ‘variety of departments to sit in’, ‘size’, ‘specialisms in the area of law I want to work in post-qualification’, ‘the social life is excellent’, ‘spent a week here on work experience and never looked back’, ‘approachable team members’, ‘told we would be given lots of responsibility from the offset’, ‘a full-service law firm with a good reputation’   

What is the best thing about the firm?   ‘Social life and that you build genuine relationships with your colleagues both inside and outside of work’, ‘the people’, ‘the work/life balance; most days I get out between 5-6pm’, ‘the culture: it’s easy to feel relaxed and comfortable being yourself in the workplace’, ‘there isn’t a single member of staff who isn’t friendly’, ‘relaxed atmosphere’, ‘professionalism’ 

What is the worst thing about the firm? ‘The pay is much lower than other firms in the area’, ‘lack of training and supervision’, ‘the remuneration is not quite comparable to the other firms around the city (of Norwich) and the wider region’ 

What has been the best moment of your training to date?  ‘Realising the area I want to qualify into due to the great quality training and encouragement of my supervisor’, ‘getting some great feedback from a client at the end of a matter I had worked on from start to finish’, ‘I have had amazing exposure to trials, injunctions, hearings and mediations’, ‘being trusted to handle a matter which would usually be reserved for a qualified lawyer’, ‘knowing I could go and ask questions whenever required was very reassuring’ 

What has been the worst moment of your training to date? ‘Being put in a seat I really didn’t want to do’, ‘feeling like I needed to finish work faster due to the number of tasks I had on at the same time’, ‘missing an important deadline’, ‘a few stressful moments before hearings’, ‘there have been a couple of instances where there has been a delay in getting feedback on some of the work I have done for fee earners’ 

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Leathes Prior

East-Anglian firm Leathes Prior, winner of five Future Lawyers Winner medals, affords its recruits a ‘great level of responsibility’. ‘We get the best training here from what I have heard’ said one respondent; ‘it is rare for me to hear trainees from other firms discuss tasks as involved as those we are given’. Leathes Prior exposes trainees to ‘a lot of client contact, and a lot of early responsibility (should you want it of course)’. ‘Fee earners are keen to have you involved in matters from start to finish, and you do not enter matters in a bit-part fashion’. A prime example of this is ‘being trusted to handle my own case’ and ‘being thrown in at the deep end on a matter, but the result was very rewarding and really boosted my confidence’. There is a commendable work/life balance at Leathes Prior, where recruits usually ‘get out between 5-6 pm‘ and have a good social life. ‘It’s easy to feel relaxed and comfortable being yourself in the workplace’, thanks to a ‘family approach’ where ‘all of the teams are properly connected’. On the flip side, ‘the remuneration is not quite comparable to other firms in the region’. Sometimes there are ‘delays in getting feedback; if work is good, you will be told, which is always good for confidence. However, occasionally this comes a while after the work was produced’. For a Norwich-based firm, with plenty of opportunity for client contact, both locally and nationally, and an excellent work/life balance, consider Leathes Prior.   

A day in the life of... Olivia Leeper, trainee, Leathes Prior

Departments to date: Commercial litigation; Commercial property

University: University of Edinburgh Open University

Degree: English Literature (MA); Graduate LLB (1st class Hons)

By way of background, I am currently nearing the end of the second of the four seats I will rotate through during my training contract with Leathes Prior. I am working in the commercial property team, having previously sat in our commercial dispute resolution team. Our commercial property team covers a broad range of work, from freehold and leasehold acquisitions and disposals, to agricultural property and commercial development. The seat is a very busy one, and the work is varied, so I never know what is going to land on my desk from day to day…

The office day typically begins with an informal coffee and chat with my supervisor and other members of the department; the team is a very close one and together they discuss the matters they are handling. This is useful to me as a trainee as it provides an overview of their general workload (any part of which could end up on my desk!) I then usually take a quiet moment to skim through the emails that have come in overnight and to prioritise my tasks: I have found organisation to be absolutely key in this seat.

We have been instructed to assist with the lease of an industrial unit for one of our longstanding clients and I spend a few hours with my head down writing a lease report for the client, which breaks down the terms of the lease and highlights any aspects that may be unfavourable to our client. Midway through this task, our client care team calls through with a new enquiry. Trainees in every seat usually take the new enquiries and it is a part of the job I really enjoy; I chat to the potential client and take down details of the work they would like us to assist with. I then run our conflict checks and draft an email to the team summarising the instructions and raising any points that need to be dealt with immediately. Usually a team member responds straight away with a view to taking on the new client, and so it’s back to me to get the new client engaged. After a quick team cup of tea, I put this task on my ‘to-do’ list and get back to the lease report.

After a few minutes, one of the partners asks me to do some research: they would like me to draft an explanatory email summarising a technical point of law for a client. I love research but I’m aware that this task might not be as urgent as others I have on; its important to always check in about this. As I thought, this job is needed by the end of the week, so it goes on the list and I continue with the report which I’d like to finish this morning.

Before I head off for lunch, I take a look at my inbox to ensure nothing urgent has come in while I have been focusing on other tasks. Clear communication is key, and it is important to respond promptly, even if just to provide a brief update to a client.

Leathes Prior has an amazing location: our offices run along The Close and are overlooked by Norwich Cathedral. There are always people keen for lunch in the city, or a walk along the river or ice cream on the Cathedral Green or the Cloisters.

After lunch I head back to the office where I find an email from a client who has been experiencing difficulties with a tenant. I discuss the situation with my supervisor and we speak to our property dispute team to run through the various possible outcomes of the situation. Together, we work on a strategy for the client outlining their options going forward. I draft a response to the client’s email and send to my supervisor and our colleague in the dispute team to review and provide feedback. If there are any changes or additions they would like to make, they always explain the rationale behind these; I genuinely feel I am always learning and gradually increasing in confidence in the role. I’ll be sad to leave this team in a few weeks, but feel excited about my next seat. LP provides a wide range of opportunities within the firm and has supported and encouraged me to find my perfect fit, which is something I am very grateful for.

After work, there is almost always some fun to be had, either at local watering holes or the various planned activities; lately we have been kayaking down the Wensum and smashing out charity bike rides.

It’s a really fun place to be.

About the firm

The firm: Leathes Prior is a leading East Anglian full-service law firm providing a comprehensive legal service to a variety of organisations and private clients, both locally and nationwide. We are a traditional law firm (established over 140 years ago) with a very modern and collaborative approach to our work. We are growing (by 17% in 2021) and currently have over 100 staff in total.

The clients: CVS (UK) Ltd; Angling Direct; Suffolk New College; Rainbird Technologies; The Great Hospital; Norwich University of the Arts; Alex Albon; Hitech Grand Prix Limited; Norfolk Broads Direct; British Horseracing Authority.

Senior partner: Paul Warman

Management committee: Dan Chapman, Richard Guthrie, Darren Bowen, Alisdair Douglas

Other offices: Four offices in total, all in central Norwich, either in the Cathedral Close or Tombland.

Who we are: Leathes Prior is a traditional full-service law firm with a modern and collaborative approach to our work.

What we do: Employment, corporate and commercial, litigation and dispute resolution, family, commercial property, residential conveyancing, wills, trusts and estates.

What we’re looking for: Our trainees are self-motivated and proactive with their learning. While academic qualifications are important to us, we also ensure the right fit with the firm.

What you’ll do: We aim to design training contracts according to the individual trainee solicitor. Our trainees normally complete four seats across the firm, spending six months in each seat.

Perks: Healthcare cash plan, mental health support in-house and via an employee assistance programme, free eye tests, free breakfast and fruit, free railcard, discounted bus travel, subsidised city centre parking, pension based on full salary, interest-free LPC loan.

Sponsorship: Interest-free loan to support post-graduate study, ie LPC.

Diversity and inclusion