Junior Lawyers Division: A day in the life of a Criminal Trainee Solicitor
I am now half-way through my final seat as a Trainee Solicitor, within the Criminal Department at Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP. Having previously completed seats in Banking Litigation, Dispute Resolution, and Commercial Property, I have returned to Crime (an area I practiced in as a fee-earning paralegal for two years prior to coming to Ellis Jones), for my last seat prior to qualification.
My seat with Crime has been a mixture of working from home, the office, and elsewhere, with regular attendances at Courts and Police Stations across Dorset and Hampshire. I have taken a snapshot of a random day to demonstrate the work of a Criminal Trainee.
08.30 – I log in from my laptop at home. The first thing I do is check my calendar for the day or any appointments that may require preparation or travel (either into the office, to Court, or to the Police Station). I then usually check my emails, responding to any ‘quick’ emails and flagging those which require more than a few minutes’ time to be spent to deal with throughout the day.
09.00 – I make a quick coffee for the road, I jump into the car and head to Poole Magistrates’ Court for a sending hearing listed at 10am in respect of a domestic violence allegation which the client intends to defend. Given the current COVID restrictions, many hearings are being dealt with via the MOJ’s ‘Cloud Video Platform’ (CVP), and in this instance my supervising solicitor is attending Court remotely to conduct the advocacy. My role is to meet the client before the hearing, liaise with the Usher to book the client in and ensure that he surrenders to bail, advise the client in respect of the procedure in the hearing, and answer any questions the client may have. Unfortunately our case is listed behind a number of matters where the defendant is in custody, and as such there is some unavoidable waiting around at Court as we wait to be called on.
11.15 – After waiting for the custody matters to be dealt with as a priority, our client’s matter is called on. My supervising solicitor is already on-screen in Court, and introduces me to the Legal Advisor, and clarifies my role in these strange circumstances! I take a note of proceedings as accurately as possible, making sure to record exactly what the Magistrates order in respect of bail conditions, to enable me to accurately advise the client after the hearing.
11.20 – Once the brief sending hearing has concluded, I have a short meeting with the client outside of court to advise him as to the next steps and bail conditions, and to confirm the next date which he will need to attend, which will be at the Bournemouth Crown Court, due to the nature of the alleged offence. Afterwards, I head back home.
11.50 – Once I have returned home, I log back on and prepare for an initial meeting with a client in respect of a road traffic offence, which is conducted via Zoom. Having worked previously for 2 years for a specialist road traffic firm, and having worked alongside my supervising solicitor on a number of matters, my supervising solicitor has asked me to run the meeting and provide the advice to the client under his supervision. I take details from the client in respect of this offence, and his previous endorsements, and provide advice in respect of the next steps and potential avenues to avoid a lengthy period of disqualification. After the interview, my supervising solicitor and I have a quick catch-up to discuss the work we have on, and to feedback in respect of the interview and advice given.
12.30 – After the Zoom call, I spend some time catching up on emails and admin. After I have dealt with everything immediately pressing, I spend some time working on a draft Brief to Counsel in respect of a sentencing hearing listed for next month in relation to a Local Authority prosecution for various food hygiene and other regulatory offences. The client in this matter has already entered a guilty plea to these allegations, but is keen to avoid custody and ensure that any financial penalty is kept to an absolute minimum.
13:00 – I grab some lunch at home, and then jump into my car once again to head this time to Weymouth Police Station for 13:00 to attend a Voluntary Interview in respect of multiple allegations of historic sexual offences, alongside one of the other solicitors in the department. We meet the client outside of the Police Station and clarify any questions he has in respect of the procedure. I then escort the client to be ‘booked in’ with a Police Sergeant, whilst the solicitor attending with me liaises with the Officer in the Case (OIC) in respect of any disclosure. Once booked in, I take the client to meet the other solicitor in the interview room in order to discuss the disclosure made and advise as to options in interview. Once my colleague has advised, I then go to get the OIC to begin the interview. During the interview I take a thorough note of everything which is said, in case we need to refer back to it at any time prior to a transcript becoming available. The interview lasts for over 2 hours, and afterwards we have a quick debrief with the client and advise him in detail on the next steps, before I head back home.
16:00 – I arrive back home just in time for a conference with Counsel, my supervising solicitor, and the client, in respect of multiple serious allegations of fraud carrying the risk of significant custodial sentences, which is conducted via Zoom. I take a full note of the conference, including the detailed advice given by Counsel in respect of prospects, procedure, and any additional evidence to assist the defence case in challenging the Crown’s allegations of fraud.
17:30 – After the lengthy conference, I spend some time responding to any final unread emails and making sure my task list is up to date for the next day, as well as recording any billable time spent throughout the day which I had not had an opportunity to do previously.
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