Trainee Blog: A day in the life of a Projects Trainee

Trainee Blog: A day in the life of a Projects Trainee

I am a first-year trainee in the Exeter office, and I have recently passed the halfway mark of my first seat in the Projects and Infrastructure team. This is a seat in Michelmores’ Real Estate group which I knew relatively little about before starting; four months on, I feel I understand far more about the UK’s social infrastructure and the important role that solicitors play in bringing it into being.

Overview of Projects

My colleague has previously written an article about what it is like to be a Trainee in the Projects team at Michelmores (see here). In summary, the Projects team advises clients in both the public and private sector on various aspects of infrastructure projects, including their establishment, management and termination. The team has particular expertise in PFI (Private Finance Initiative) contracts, which are a type of public-private partnership (PPP) in which a private sector partner contracts with a public authority to assist with the financing, design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure projects, generally over a period of 25-30 years. Examples of such projects may include construction work at a hospital or the provision of services to a school building. The team supports clients in achieving their aims and navigating any challenges arising over the course of the project, for example by advising on contract variations or negotiations with lenders and subcontractors.

It is an exciting time to be working in this area as many PFI contracts are approaching their expiry dates, and clients will have to navigate the handback procedure, in which the assets are returned from the private sector to the public sector.

Typical Day as a Projects Trainee

The work of the Projects team is extremely varied, and as a Trainee I get to work with lawyers across the team on a wide range of interesting and complex matters, helping me to gain experience in different sectors such as healthcare and education. Although no two days are the same, below is an outline of a typical day.

8:45: on arriving at the Exeter office, I check my emails and calendar and prepare my to-do list for the day. I also read a few articles from the daily news alert I receive from our internal Knowledge team, which is tailored to my current seat and my other areas of interest.

9:15: I meet with one of my colleagues to discuss preparing the next Knowledge Briefing for the Projects team, which we lead together once a month. We discuss any updates or interesting articles we have found and decide which topics we want to present to the team. After our catch-up, I grab a cup of coffee and start writing my section of our Briefing document which we will use to help us lead the discussion.

10:00: Thursday is our team’s anchor day, so the whole team is in the office – we all head to a meeting room for our weekly team meeting. We discuss new and ongoing matters, how we are all doing in terms of our workload and any other matters of interest for the team, including firmwide events and updates.

10:30: I go to another meeting room with a few of my colleagues for a call with a client. We have an all-parties call coming up at 11am to discuss progress on a draft deed of variation to the Project Agreement (the central agreement between the public authority and its private sector partner), so ahead of this we take the client’s instructions and try to understand their aims and priorities for the meeting. At the all-parties call, I take notes, focussing in particular on any actions and deadlines agreed by the parties. After the call my supervisor asks me to prepare an action list to circulate to the meeting attendees. I look through my notes and draft an email for my supervisor to approve.

13:00: I go down to the conservatory for lunch with some of the other trainees. It’s a nice opportunity to hear about how they are all getting on in their various teams, as well as what everyone has been up to outside of work.

14:00: Two of my colleagues invite me to sit with them while they discuss a draft contract. We act for the public authority in this matter, and we have just received a revised draft deed of variation from the solicitors acting for the private sector partner (the Project Company). I listen in while my colleagues discuss our position on each of the changes. I take a note of anything that may be useful for my colleagues when they come to mark up the document, as well as any terms I’m unfamiliar with which I may want to research later.

15:45: Back at my desk, I chat to another colleague about a matter which is close to completion. My colleague asks me to get all the transaction documents ready to be executed electronically and to draft instructions to the signatories on the signing process. Although I am unfamiliar with this matter, there is already a document on the file outlining which documents need to be signed by whom, and I have template signing instructions from another matter which I can adapt. I upload the documents to the online signing platform, check them over and highlight where each party needs to sign – the documents are now ready to go when the parties give their confirmation. I then send my draft signing instructions to my supervisor and confirm everything is in place.

17:00: I make sure I have properly recorded all my time on each matter today, and I make a note of any outstanding tasks for tomorrow. I add an entry to my Trainee diary, which is a record of the work I have done and the skills I have developed over my training contract. Once this is done, I’ll log off for the evening; I might go to the gym or perhaps meet some of the other trainees for dinner or drinks in Exeter city centre.