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? ‘It’s a local and friendly firm, but also very well established and respected ‘, ‘its location and spread of expertise’, ‘for the social scene, the early responsibility and the number of partners that trained with the firm (i.e. how much they try and retain and progress the careers of their ‘homegrown talent’)’, ‘the location, work/life balance, training and support’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The support and approachability of partners’, ‘how social the firm is in the community and with each other’, ‘the firm’s culture is very much anti-hierarchical, in that when I go to the pub after work on a Friday just across from our offices, I always feel like I can have a conversation with anyone – whether it be a fellow trainee or an equity partner’, ‘friendliness’, ‘the early responsibility’

 Worst thing about the firm? ‘The pay’, ‘the offices are quite old, meaning expansion is sometimes in question’, ‘the pay; I was offered training contracts from other firms in the city that offered much higher starting salaries, as well as other financial bonuses. However, what the firm lacks in early remuneration, it makes up for in terms of progression, so my decision to go with Leathes Prior was very much based on playing the long game’, ‘not much – it’s a good place to work’

Best moment? ‘All the social events and the engagement from the start’, ‘my associate supervisor left for a three-week holiday and both my supervisors decided to trust me with a lot of her files in her absence. Receiving this sort of trust and responsibility just three months into my training contract was exactly the reason why I chose to come to Leathes Prior, and I absolutely relished every minute of it’

Worst moment? ‘Moments where I myself have made a mistake and had to bear the brunt of the pushback – but even then my supervisors have always come to my aid (even if it follows with a bit of a telling off!)’, ‘being given a seat I didn’t really want’, ‘feeling stressed because of difficult clients’, ‘occasionally feeling overwhelmed with work deadlines’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Leathes Prior

East Anglian Leathes Prior was chosen by trainees for its ‘location, full-service offering, friendliness and approachability’. The firm strikes the perfect balance between being ‘local and friendly’, whilst also being ‘very well-established and respected’. There is a focus on ‘homegrown talent’ at Leathes Prior, with many of the current partners having trained at the firm. As such, one trainee’s best moment was ‘realising I had the ability and support to forge my own career path in the firm’. When it comes to training, Leathes Prior is ‘miles ahead, especially in terms of early responsibility’. For example, recruits have a ‘lot of involvement in drafting and interviewing’ but ‘still have the support of not only our supervisors, but also our extended teams’. As one respondent elaborates: ‘within just a few months I was practically heading up files (under supervision), which has been intense but also so rewarding and fulfilling’. Given the glowing feedback, it comes as no surprise that Leathes Prior is a Future Lawyers Winner in a slew of categories, including quality of work and client contact. But ‘the pay’ is the worst thing about the firm: ‘it’s no secret that, compared with the big firms in Norwich, Leathes Prior pays their trainees the least’ said more than one respondent. The general feeling though is that the lower pay is at least partially offset by the increased responsibility and the ‘feeling of value/belonging’, something which could easily be lost in a larger firm. Some of the less enjoyable moments for trainees were ‘feeling stressed because of difficult clients’ and ‘occasionally overwhelmed with work deadlines’. To receive a ‘great deal of client contact and be heavily involved in cases’ in an environment where ‘all employees are equally supported’, consider Leathes Prior.

A day in the life of Kate Wheeler, trainee, Leathes Prior

Kate Wheeler, Leathes Prior

Departments to date: Commercial property (first seat); Corporate and commercial (second seat)

University: University of York

Degree: Law Degree (LLB) First Class

I started my training contract with Leathes Prior in September 2022. Currently, I am sitting in the corporate and commercial team, having previously sat in the commercial property team. Undertaking a corporate and commercial seat at Leathes Prior is particularly interesting as, unlike many other firms, it deals with both corporate matters, being the transfer and management of companies, and commercial matters, covering a wider range of law such as intellectual property, terms and conditions, a data protection. This makes the seat incredibly varied as you are able to get involved and develop your skills in both comprehensive corporate work, as well as more smaller-scale commercial work.

My day typically starts around 8am, as the majority of the team, including myself, are early risers. I check my emails and have a chat with my supervisor about our evenings, the work I have on, and anything new that my supervisor wants me to get involved in. I then make a to-do list for the day in order of priority, before going to grab a coffee. On my way to the kitchen, I stop by the rooms of other members of the team to say hello, and then head back to my desk to start work.

This day is a particularly exciting one, as we are completing the purchase of a company which I have been lucky enough to see through from start to finish – something that is not always possible during a six-month seat. I email the sellers’ solicitor with the final agreed documents, which I have been involved in drafting, and then circulate the relevant documents to our client for signing. Shortly after this, I receive a call from our client, who wishes to sign the documents while on the phone, just to make sure no issues arise. We talk through the signing together, following which I check the documents to make sure everything is in order. I then brief our client on the final steps of the transaction, assuring them we will be in contact later in the day to confirm completion.

I then move my attention to a new enquiry I received the previous day from someone looking to review, and potentially amend, their company’s terms and conditions. After scanning over the company’s terms, I discuss them with a member of my team to agree the potential work involved and a costs estimate. Following this, I draft an email to the client explaining the work we would expect to do, and our quotation, which I send for approval. Once approved, I email the client and cc in the fee-earner involved in the discussion, who will supervise the work should the client wish to proceed.

Once this item is ticked off my to-do list, I begin reviewing my supervisor’s amendments to an asset purchase agreement (APA) I drafted earlier in the week. This is the second APA I have worked on during my seat, which really enables me to see the progress I have made over the past four months. I work through the document, making a note of the changes made, and highlight any points I do not fully understand.

Around 1pm, I meet up with some friends from different departments and head for lunch. We take a quick walk into the city to grab some food and then sit in the Cathedral Close. Especially on days such as today where the sun is out, it’s nice to get outside and appreciate the setting of where we work. We greet other colleagues as they walk past – another benefit of working in a firm of our size – and then head back to our respective offices.

After lunch, I sit with my supervisor to talk through the amendments to the APA. I make additional notes, and we discuss in detail the specific points I do not understand. Following this conversation, we then outline the next steps in the transaction and what my involvement will look like.

Following this, my supervisor and I receive confirmation from the sellers’ solicitor that they are now ready to complete. We have a call where we agree to date the transaction documents, transfer the purchase funds we have received from our client, and provide them copies of the signed and dated documents for their records. We then proceed to inform our client that the
purchase has completed and let them know the filings we will make on their behalf at Companies House.

At the end of the week, the team typically leave the office just before 5pm and head to the pub. Leathes Prior prides itself on being an integrated and sociable firm, which is definitely demonstrated each week by the turnout to Friday drinks. I am able to chat with my team, other members of the firm, as well as catch up with my fellow trainees who, due to us sitting in different departments or even buildings, I may not have had the chance to see during the week. I head home later that evening feeling satisfied with the work I have accomplished that day, but, most importantly, looking forward to the week ahead.

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 and currently have over 120 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

Managing partners: Dan Chapman, Richard Guthrie, Darren Bowen

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

Percentage of female associates: 50%

Percentage of female partners: 30%