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Trainee Blog: A seat in Employment

During a training contract at Michelmores, trainees are encouraged to undertake seats both within the three Groups (Business, Real Estate, and Private Client) and across the three main offices (Bristol, Exeter, and London). Trainees must undertake seats which are both contentious and non-contentious, with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) requiring trainees to undertake at least one contentious seat during their training contract.

The third seat of my training contract was in the Employment team based in the Bristol office and I have summarised the experience below.

A split seat

At Michelmores, a trainee in the Employment team will work on both contentious and non-contentious work. This allows you to receive the benefit of experiencing both types of work, whilst adhering to the SRA’s requirement. Experiencing both types of work side by side is beneficial and can assist you in deciding your preferences. In turn, this may help shape the remainder of your training contract. It can, therefore, be particularly useful to undertake a split seat earlier in your training contract to receive the full benefit of experiencing both simultaneously.

The contentious

My seat in Employment was weighted in favour of the contentious work. A large part of the seat revolves around the Employment Tribunal (ET) process in which individuals pursue claims against their current, potential, or ex-employers if they believe they have been subjected to unlawful treatment. An ET claim often hinges on arguments concerning unfair, wrongful, or constructive dismissal, and discrimination on the grounds of a protected characteristic such as gender, race, or disability.

The ET process can be broken down into several phases and typical trainee tasks include:

  1. Drafting an ET1 and Particulars of Claim (when acting for the Claimant) or ET3 and Grounds of Resistance (when acting for the Respondent) which detail the basis of a claim or defence against a claim, respectively;
  2. Assisting with the disclosure process by reviewing any documentation received from either party, assessing the relevancy of the documentation provided, and preparing hearing bundle(s) as required;
  3. Drafting witness statements on behalf of witnesses to be called;
  4. Preparing schedules or counter schedules of loss (depending on which party you are acting for); and
  5. Attending and taking a note of (where required):
    1. Preliminary Hearings to determine ongoing case management, preliminary issues, and consider applications relating to matters such as strike-out or deposit orders;
    2. Alternative Dispute Resolution Hearings or Judicial Mediations which are both available to parties engaged in litigation and present an opportunity to resolve a dispute without the need for a Final Hearing, which can save both time and costs; and
    3. Final Hearings in which the ET determines a claim following opening submissions by both parties, cross-examination of the claimant and any witnesses, and closing submissions by both parties.

The non-contentious

The non-contentious comprises of the advisory and transactional elements of Employment law. Typical trainee tasks may include:

  1. Researching specific employment issues or rights and advising on the same;
  2. Drafting documentation such as employment contracts and policies;
  3. Drafting settlement agreements and negotiating the terms of a settlement between an employer and employee where required; and
  4. Undertaking corporate due diligence when an acquisition of a company includes employees.

If you have any questions about life as a trainee in Employment or as a trainee at Michelmores more generally, please feel free to reach out via email or connect with me on LinkedIn.