HM Insights

A Day In The Life of a Trainee Solicitor at Harper Macleod

While there's no such thing as an average day as a trainee solicitor, there are themes that can prepare you for what to expect. So, for part six of our trainee blog series, Sara Douglas-Smith takes us through a day-in-the-life of a trainee at Harper Macleod.

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I am currently in my second seat, in the Employment team. The work in this department varies day-to-day and can range from preparing for an upcoming Employment Tribunal hearing, researching topics and preparing an advice note for a client to drafting policies and documents.

I also receive work from more than one person, so it's important to be organised as there are normally a lot of competing deadlines.


My day will typically start with a quick coffee and a scan through my emails. When I joined the team I signed up to a daily employment law update, to keep on top of the important changes, so I start by reading this most mornings. 

I then try to plan my day. I work from a 'to do' list and my calendar - where I schedule in the work I have to complete and the relevant deadlines. From here, I try to work out what to prioritise - although this can change very quickly depending on what's going on in the office.

This morning, I am reviewing a client's Employee Handbook, which involves reviewing the policies to ensure that they are up to date. I also make notes with any proposed changes that will then be sent back to the client. This particular client has instructed us to draft some new policies, so I draft these and send them onto my supervisor for approval. Normally, the drafts are sent back with the changes marked in tracked changes (highlighted in another colour). I used to be daunted by the thought of drafting a legal document, but my first seat was in Commercial Property so I soon got over that.
Once I have finished my first task, I move onto drafting a blog for the employment section of the website. The employment law blogs cover a wide range of topics but we try to ensure they are relevant to what is going on in the world. As blogs are more informal, my time is mainly spent researching and trying to find any relevant news articles on the topic.

Before lunch I receive an email from a client about a matter that I have been assisting my colleague with. In this seat, I have been learning a lot about GDPR, employers' responsibilities and what's required to be GDPR compliant. I am normally tasked with taking on new GDPR queries and working with the client to find out more information about the type of data that they process. From there I then draft the relevant GDPR documents required. This email is simply asking for some information, so I am able to quickly answer the client with the help of my colleague.


At lunchtime, I try to meet the other trainees to find out how they are getting on. We tend to go for a walk around town to stretch our legs, although with Glasgow being Glasgow we normally end up diving into a coffee shop to avoid the rain.


After lunch my attention turns to a completely different matter, preparing for an upcoming tribunal hearing. The hearing is a preliminary hearing, which has been set to discuss time bar. One of the most important things I've learnt in this seat is that the time limit for lodging an Employment Tribunal claim form is three months from the date the incident or termination occurred. We represent the Respondent in this case and so we have to prepare a 'joint bundle' for the hearing. This means I have to go through all of the Claimant's documents and our own and combine them. This then needs paged numbered. Depending on the size of the bundle, this can take a long time. Thankfully this one is relatively small so I manage to complete it before the end of the day.

While this has been a fairly typical day, it's not always that way – who knows what tomorrow will bring! However, if you are organised and as prepared as you can be, you will be in the best position to help the team deal with whatever crops up.

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