Emma Maguire
Posted on 8 Jan 2016

My first Seat: Agricultural Property Litigation

It has been a year and a half since I found out that I had managed to (finally!) obtain a training contract. It is true what everyone says; the waiting time goes so quickly. But that is nothing compared to how quickly the time flies by when you are actually undertaking the training contract!

My current seat is in the Bristol office in Agricultural Property Litigation. I know what you are thinking; that concerns farms, cows and milk…well, you're not wrong! My experience so far has involved disputes over milk contracts which have required me to know all about the milking periods of cows. To let you all in the know (and for a great start in this seat), a heifer is pregnant for 301 days and will produce the best milk when her calf is 3 to 6 months old.  Some farmers will ensure that their entire herd produces the best milk at the same time so they will all need to calf at the same time. Other farmers will ensure that they have a supply of the best milk year round which means their herd must calf year round (this is the case if the milk is used for seasonal produce such as chocolate or cheese) – I have delighted in sharing this knowledge with family and friends!

I have also been involved in many disputes over farms and farm land. This is usually linked in with the Probate team as the farm will have been left in a Will to individuals but a dispute arises. This can be in respect of the value of the land left to each beneficiary, the amount of inheritance tax due on the beneficiary's part of the farm or how a farm is to be divided between the beneficiaries. Such a dispute has allowed me to see a Queen's Counsel (QC) in action in the High Court which was a great opportunity and experience. It demonstrated to me that as an instructing solicitor, you really have to know the case inside out in order to be able to instruct counsel fully and be prepared to provide counsel with further details on the spot.

The client interaction that I have been given has been second to none. I have sat in several client meetings, which has involved taking minutes which I then dictate to produce an attendance note. I have written letters of advice to clients and have also liaised with clients on the telephone. This high level of client interaction started in my first week, it was one of the reasons that I applied to Michelmores and I have not been disappointed.

The Bristol office is situated on the Harbourside and I have a great view of the river from my window. It’s also close to many cafes and bars but I've not decided whether this is a good or bad thing yet!

The people in the Bristol office could not have been more welcoming and more inclusive – I've felt like a member of the team since day one.  Colleagues have gone out of their way to introduce themselves to me and to assist me when I have looked a little lost.

They have been fantastically supportive which has been very much appreciated particularly as I am the only trainee in the Bristol office.

Overall, this has been a fantastic first seat and I will be sad to leave the team in just a few months time. But who knows, I may be back!!