A day in the life of a Commercial Litigation Solicitor
A day in the life of a commercial litigation solicitor is varied and challenging.
I deal with a wide range of disputes, including breach of contract cases, partnership disputes, professional negligence claims, judicial review cases and corporate disputes, often with millions of pounds at stake. I also advise clients on strategic decision-making to avoid or reduce the risk of a dispute arising.
One of my specialisms is also dealing with public procurement challenges. Public procurement is the means by which certain public bodies are required by law to buy goods and services. Procurement law is a fast developing and relatively new area of law and is governed by general principles set out in both European and domestic legislation and case law. Accordingly, when dealing with disputes of this nature, there is a large body of law that may need to be considered. I have acted both for public bodies who have received challenges to their decision-making and for unsuccessful suppliers who believe that there has been an error in the decision-making process and that they should have been awarded the contract in issue. A typical day when a case like this comes in is very busy! Procurement challenges have a short 30-day limitation period and there is almost always a significant amount of documentation to consider before being able to advise the client on what should be done next. Such claims can also involve working with colleagues in other teams within the firm and, on occasions, in our other offices, particularly if it is necessary to issue a claim in London. If a claim is issued, it can be followed very quickly by interim applications to the Court where parties are arguing whether the contract should be let, or whether the contract process should be suspended until the claim has been dealt with. That may involve me in Court hearings or often a mediation or settlement negotiations. The firm's clients for procurement challenges have included the Welsh Government, the Department of Health and NHS England.
In contrast, I have recently been working for a large multi-national client on a number of disputes with one of my supervising partners in the Southampton office. Cross-office working is encouraged by the firm as it ensures that resources are used effectively and in line with peoples' skills. That is also something which I think the firm does well and it ensures that teams are built more effectively with the result that better working relationships are formed.
What does a typical day look like?
A typical day can involve liaising with clients and with solicitors acting for other parties, drafting correspondence and preparing pleadings and evidence, attending Court hearings or client meetings, and training and/or supervising junior team members.
Training is also something that the firm takes seriously and there is an internal training programme, including one that leads to a Diploma in Litigation for those starting in dispute resolution. We also have the opportunity to attend external training events and I have benefited from such training throughout my career. I started with the firm as a trainee and have now been qualified for over 14 years.
The firm also encourages people to get involved in fundraising initiatives. The Cardiff office nominates a new charity every two years and is currently supporting the Alzheimer's Society. Examples of things that I have been involved in previously include It's a Knock-Out, the Alzheimer's Memory Walk and a cross-office competition for Red Nose Day in which each office competed against each other to see who could cycle the furthest within 6 hours! The office has also organised charity events such as cake bakes, pub quizzes, choir evenings and cinema nights. There are plenty of things to get involved in and last year, a cross-office team completed the Three Peaks Challenge, raising over £11,000 for nominated charities.
What I enjoy about my job is that each dispute is different; even with procurement challenges, numerous different issues can arise, so no two days in work are ever the same. The quality of the firm's client base and the supervision I have received are excellent and this has meant that the quality of the work I have received has been excellent also. It has also meant that I have been able to work on some high profile cases during my career to date.