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A day in the life of a local government trainee solicitor

updated on 20 June 2022

Reading time: four minutes

Originally, my career in local government started by accident! After finishing university I was looking for my first job within the legal sector. Luckily for me I was given a bundle clerk position which meant that I was able to experience the area of child care law for the first time the area.

I was immediately drawn in by the fast-paced nature of the work. I enjoyed being able to see a case through from the issuing of proceedings to conclusion. Given that this particular area of the law is politically sensitive, I also enjoyed the political aspect of the work and was always mindful to observe when fee earners were providing advice to the client. I have always found senior lawyers to be open to teaching junior members of staff even when things are busy.

Working within local government meant that I was given a high level of responsibility early on. Within a few months, I started drafting application forms, letters of instruction, case summaries and briefs to counsel. I was also given the unique opportunity to observe hearings and this enabled me to make connections and build contacts early in my career.

I commenced my training contract in March of this year, and my first seat is within adult social care. It’s been challenging getting to grips with a new area of law, but I’ve been supported by my supervisor and other lawyers who seem to have an encyclopedic knowledge of their subject area! The work is varied and interesting and I hope you will be able to see that from my snapshot of a typical day.

A typical day in my life

8:50: I arrive at work. I’m fortunate that my employer is flexible when it comes to working from home, but I like to go into the office at least two to three days a week to meet people. I work in quite a large department so there are always new faces around. It’s also a lot easier to ask for help. As I’m still quite early on in my training contract, I ask for help quite a lot!

9:15: I grab a hot chocolate and check my emails. I usually like to complete a to-do list the night before to keep my day on track. I make sure that nothing urgent has come in from the clients or the fee earners I’m shadowing.

10:00: My supervisor asks me to review a bundle for an upcoming inquest at the Coroner’s Court. I haven’t attended one before so do some research into the process and what will happen. I look through the court bundle and review the statements, making a note of anything I think is missing, and what further documents should be added. I also make some comments about the bundle order. My supervisor asks me to book in a conference with counsel and the clients, so I send some emails to get this into motion.

11:00: I have a standing weekly Teams meeting with the other trainees in the council. I ask the trainees who are closer to finishing their contracts questions about my upcoming PSC Advocacy course. They provide lots of useful advice and I feel much better about what I’ll be expected to do.

13:00: We have a Teams call with the adult social care, childcare and education lawyers. It’s nice to hear what the other teams are up to. The supervisors always make a point of asking the trainees how they’re doing and ensuring that we should reach out if we need help or feel overwhelmed.

13:30: Lunchtime! Because I got a training contract a bit further away from where I live, I like to use my lunchtime to explore the area. The building is not too far from the sea, so I take the opportunity to walk along the seafront.

14:15: One of my supervisors asks me if I would like to accompany counsel to an upcoming in-person court hearing. I agree and spend some of the afternoon reviewing the case file and trying to decide whether the official solicitor will agree with our position and if not, what our advice would be to the client.

15:00: I receive a few emails on some cases I’ve been assigned. A financial deputyship and an s21A objection. I do some research on each of the queries and draft responses for my supervisors to check over. As I’m still so new to community care law, this takes me quite a while, but I feel like I’ve made progress in my understanding.

16:45: My train is at five, so I leave the office and take a brisk walk to the station!

I wrote this article with the aim of encouraging those in the early stages of their legal careers to see a career within local government as a credible and exciting option and not just as an ‘alternative option’. You’ll be able to have a lot of responsibility early on within a supportive, friendly and flexible environment.

I will be featured on The LawCareers.Net Podcast later in the year and can’t wait to expand further on my experiences and why I think local government career is a unique and fulfilling career opportunity.  If you want to discuss anything further regarding my article, please reach out via LinkedIn.

Iko Onuh (she/her) is a trainee solicitor at Brighton & Hove City Council.