James Lamont, Trainee Solicitor
What’s your current role and how long have you been at the firm?
Trainee Solicitor, Tax Trusts & Succession in the London office. 4 years and 5 months (since May 2016)
Give an example of a typical day in your role
In my current seat I am doing a lot of substantial legal drafting (eg Wills, tax residency advice, pre-arrival planning etc) which requires a legal mind and solid hours of attention at a time, but the first drafts do not require much experience in the area. The benefit of experience is added in supervision, which is less time intensive and more efficient in terms of the matter budget. In my previous seats I have also had the opportunity to attend a good number of client meetings; this runs a range of activities, for example directly assisting clients with legal documents in person, assisting my supervisor in their advice, and quietly sitting in at the table taking a detailed note. In addition to this I frequently draft emails to clients and intermediaries on behalf of my supervisor. I will also perform a fair amount of legal research, delving into books and internal / online sources to figure out answers to particularly unusual or uncommon issues on behalf of my supervisor. This carries with it the benefit of drafting a research note which may well become the basis for the advice given to the client, and is an opportunity for a trainee to engage with the law and suggest appropriate advice to their supervisor. Finally, I will perform non-billable work, such as draft billing narratives and collating know-your-client documents, which are more administrative but require a legal mind to understand and coordinate. I will typically work between 8-12 hours a day depending on how busy things are (outside of my core 7h working day). This varies from team to team, and by & large I enjoy my job so much that I don’t notice the hours; clearly bad days do happen, but that’s true for any job.
What do you enjoy most about working at Charles Russell Speechlys?
The legal work I am given is often academically interesting, and I am consistently engaged by the level of thought and problem solving I am trusted with. The firm also has a noticeable commitment to its published values. I have been an employee of the firm since starting as an admin assistant in 2016, and I have always been treated with dignity and respect no matter the position I have worked in – I am treated with seriousness as a valued & capable colleague, which contrasts hard with stories I hear from other firms in the same bracket. Hard work is rewarded, and there are considerable resources available to help me achieve my potential. I also particularly enjoy the amount of contact time I get with the partners of the firm, who take an active interest in the development of their junior lawyers (I recall being told that I was “lucky” to be working directly with the partner on a matter; for me this was just “normal”…). Employees are also encouraged to go out of their way to assist with corporate social responsibility and pro bono work. For example, I was encouraged by the firm to take a two week pro bono secondment to European Lawyers in Lesvos, helping asylum seekers prepare for their asylum interviews with the Greek authorities.
What one piece of advice you would give to a Future Trainee starting in their legal career?
Never be afraid of being yourself. This is probably rote advice you see all the time, but, I try not to compromise who I am for the sake of my career. I keep expecting it to get me into trouble, but, I have discovered that clients and colleagues will by and large respect and remember solicitors for their individuality and personality, taken together with the quality of their work. Charles Russell Speechlys can be taken as an example of this in practice; clients instruct this firm not just because there is an expectation that the work will be of a particular quality, but also because of the attitude of our fee earners and the manner in which we engage with our clients. They could take their business to any other firm of the same standard, but choose to instruct us because they enjoy working with our team.