Each year, we offer work experience placements in our busy Chelmsford offices.
A week’s vacation scheme at Gepp Solicitors will give the candidate a valuable insight into the legal profession before applying for jobs once they have have left University.
This year, Josie Lawson spent a week during the Easter break visiting each of our six departments and working alongside our Partners, Fee Earners and Trainees. Whilst spending time in each department, she undertook practical tasks and was able to speak to staff and gain a valuable insight into the day-to-day aspects of the firm.
As part of Josie's tasks in our marketing department, we asked her to write a blog about her experience with Gepp Solicitors.
After researching Gepp Solicitors and applying via their website advertisement, I was extremely pleased to be informed that I had been selected as Gepp's Easter Vacation Scheme candidate at the Chelmsford office for April 2019.
I arrived at the office on Monday morning with a warm welcome from reception and trainee Georgie Bolton who had organised the placement for me. Georgia referred to my timetable for the week, outlining the six different departments I would be working in before introducing me to the first department, civil litigation.
I spent the morning drafting a Pre-Action Protocol, Particulars of Claim and an N1 claim form for a contractual debt recovery claim. I used online research tools such as Practical Law by Thompson Reuters to further my understanding of the Civil Procedure Rules and the steps taken to resolve civil disputes. Later on in the week, I observed a civil court hearing at Chelmsford County Court for a debt recovery claim. This was my first experience attending a court hearing and it was interesting to witness the process of oral and written advocacy at first hand as well as the interactions with the judge and how he concluded his decision.
On Monday afternoon I sat in the private client department and was tasked with writing a draft simple will and accompanying cover letter. Although I had touched on wills and probates earlier in my degree, examining a real template will and the different provisions contained within was completely new to me and I learned a lot about the requirements of will drafting and calculating inheritance tax.
On my second day I undertook my favourite practical task of the week in the employment department. I already had an idea that employment law was something I had an interest in and this was confirmed to me during the placement. I was required to read a complex and sensitive case and accompanying documents before educating myself on the law of unfair dismissal and producing a list of issues for an employment tribunal. I learnt that the burden of proof in unfair dismissal claims is shifted to the respondent to prove that their reason for dismissal fell under one of the five statutory reasons under section 94 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning from. During the afternoon I reviewed some document bundles on divorce with family solicitor Filomena Sterkaj. It was interesting learning about her daily tasks and hearing about her route into the legal profession from working in the children's legal team of Essex County Council.
Wednesday was one of my favourite days of the vacation scheme, I shadowed senior criminal solicitor and partner Peter Butterfield and undertook tasks such as reading ongoing cases, witness statements and medical evidence, analysing CCTV footage and preparing cross examination questions for adult and minor witnesses. I was also given the opportunity to attend two client appointments which opened my eyes to this area of law in practice and the importance to set aside personal judgements and take an objective approach when handling clients' cases. Peter gave me a genuine insight into becoming a criminal lawyer and the advantages and disadvantages, which I left the office thinking about.
On Thursday I experienced the daily tasks of the new business team of the residential conveyancing department at Gepp before going out for lunch with Susan Le-Sage and Georgia, two of the trainees at the firm. I learnt more about Gepp's culture and impressive flexibility and work/life balance that I had noticed during my time there. During the afternoon I sat in the commercial property department which I had been looking forward to due to my underlying interest in commercial aspects of law.
Trainee solicitor Charlotte Strutt set me a challenging but interesting task of determining the steps taken when granting a commercial lease agreement, I was also provided with a precedent commercial lease agreement to review and amend. I exchanged some of my findings with Charlotte and she explained some of the law on commercial leases to me which was valuable. It was useful learning about Charlotte's path to becoming a trainee solicitor and being reassured that there are different routes into the profession without a training contract offer at university.
On my final day I sat with Digital Marketing Executive Natasha Kendall in the marketing team and learnt the importance of using social media platforms to promote individuals and businesses. I spent time speaking with Business Development and Marketing Director Spencer Davis who enhanced my understanding of the skills needed to succeed as a lawyer and gave me numerous and favourable examples of things I can do to better my chances of employment and stand out amongst competition.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my week at Gepp and found the experience extremely valuable by enabling me the opportunity to exercise relevant skills, particularly legal research and reviewing documents and gain exposure to various aspects of legal services. I would like to thank the team at the Chelmsford Office for welcoming me to the firm and I wish them all the best.
Learn more about the vacancies and work experience opportunities at Gepp Solicitors here.