Case study

Alysha Patel — Trainee solicitor

Employer
Norton Rose Fulbright

Alysha secured her training contract after completing a vacation scheme at Norton Rose Fulbright

My first experience at Norton Rose Fulbright was at an open day organised by Aspiring Solicitors. The day was very insightful and it encouraged me to apply for the vacation scheme in my second year of university. During the vacation scheme, I sat with a Senior Associate in Disputes. He gave me challenging research and drafting tasks, provided comprehensive feedback on my letter of advice and organised for me to spend a day in court. He was great to learn from and I appreciate the effort he put in to give me the best experience. Everyone I met was willing to help; a trainee gave me his LPC notes to assist with my research; the head of the department invited me to meetings so I could learn more about the firm; and on most days I had lunch or coffee with associates in different departments. The firm offered not only sectoral expertise that aligned with my interests, but also a friendly workplace culture.

My first seat was in banking, in the Project Finance team. The work is purely transactional and typical trainee activities include drafting and updating the CP checklist, drafting the CP documents and notices, proofreading and preparing transaction documents for execution, preparing signing instructions and assisting with the closing by collating documents and signatures. Had it not been for lockdown, following a closing I would have produced a transaction bible of all the documents. I was able to pre-empt the associate’s instructions as my familiarity with the transaction process grew over time, and therefore I became a more efficient resource for the senior members of the team. I also helped the knowledge team to develop an insurance curriculum, and I supported the business development team with a focus on the energy sector. I researched client development opportunities, reviewed client publications and wrote an article on the EU Green Deal (which is a great read and can be found on the firm’s website.)

I am currently in my second seat in the Environment, Safety and Planning team. The work is a mixture of advisory and contentious, and often feels like a completely different job to my previous seat. The key responsibilities are managing data rooms, taking notes on client calls, drafting reports, amending witness statements, proof-reading statements of case, redacting sensitive information from documents and disclosing them, assisting with preparations for court by reviewing documents and undertaking various research tasks (whether that be environmental updates, safety regulations or planning applications, decisions or appeals). The range of disciplines make for a seat in which no two weeks are the same, and this has given me the opportunity to develop a diverse skillset. In terms of business development, I have researched safety developments, drafted slide decks, speaker notes and internal publications, and facilitated a sustainability hackathon.

Trainees receive mandatory training at the start of each seat, which provides an overview of the different work streams in the team. We also have optional team-wide or firm-wide training sessions, which are either refreshers or updaters. The training contract is structured in the standard format a two-year period, spent in four seats, each with a duration of six months. The compulsory seats are banking and corporate, and there is room for flexibility and the choice to do a litigation course instead of a six-month disputes seat.

My highlights of working at NRF so far are the projects that are the first of their kind, the biggest, or those that have the tightest deadlines. In my first week I worked on the largest solar project in the world to be project financed, and at the end of the transaction I was tasked with preparing 45 documents for execution. I have also been asked to proofread a legal commentary on the world's largest offshore wind farm within one hour. Another highlight was when I assisted on two closings with intense workloads on consecutive days. The partner later sent a congratulatory email to the whole team and called me to thank me for my efforts. It is precisely this combination of the collegiate and dynamic nature of Norton Rose Fulbright that initially drew me to the firm, and it has stayed true during my training contract.

This job offers challenging work, and I enjoy being trusted with greater responsibility, as often the reward is much greater. As I reached the end of my first seat I was tasked with independently auditing over 80 notices, and I subsequently drafted and served a further 80-plus notices. I also had to extensively research several policy areas for the EU Green Deal article, but the outcome of (kind of, but not really) being a published author, made it all worthwhile. Though I do not always enjoy the long hours when I am working them, on reflection I am grateful for these experiences as they have fostered my skillset. With that being said, I am not opposed to the shorter working days and, on the odd occasion, tasks that require little brain power.

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