Day One


Day one with Forster Dean Solicitors. Going on four hours sleep, and being up since five (and still going), I am well and truly shattered.

So the commute was a disaster. All-in-all I spent 5 hours commuting, which is almost as long as the day in the office had lasted. I am still outraged by Virgin Trains for announcing changes to a service while closing the doors. I was within an inch of being decapitated, and I’d rather that than be stuck in lovely Scotland!

Well, I feel that it is fair to say that today had brought events which were not what I expected… just as I expected. From walking through the door, you can really appreciate the different environment a high-street firm has to offer as opposed to a big city firm like Shakespeare Martineau. There were only three people in the office today, and there were roughly 5 or 6 desks. I’m still not sure how I feel about this. Although the big city firm environment brought excitement and curiosity, I realise that I should put my first-impressions aside and keep an open mind. Therefore, I will return to this point later in the week.

For the first time I had the pleasure of figuring out what a case-management system is and how it is used. Peter was a delight, and had spent a lot of his time showing me how the system works. To put it shortly, the case management system allows you to create cases and add information about the client, their witnesses, their insurers, the courts, the defendants etcetera. Even more wonderfully, if you’ve entered the data correctly, the information is mail-merged automatically into whatever forms or documents you need to issue. The system also tracks how much time you spend on each task, and automatically charges it (based on hourly rate) to the client’s account.

A lot of the work that Forster Dean carries out is no win / no fee. I managed to wrap my head around this concept by looking at a standard Conditional Fee Agreement (or CFA) which the firm uses. After a thorough read, I conclude that a CFA is a document which basically allocates who pays what if and when, but it should always be read thoroughly and with a great deal of care!

The final activity to mention, and the most enjoyable activity of today, was having the satisfaction of foreshadowing Peter whilst he dealt with clients face to face. The importance of interpersonal skills were reaffirmed – Peter’s clients were made to feel like friends from the moment they walked in to the moment he showed them to the door. Out of the four visits today, one was most unusual; a drop-in from a woman who had trouble with an executor. The woman was clearly in despair, and I fancied I was observing an appointment with a GP or a therapist of that fashion. With the client going into great deal about her stresses, it had occurred to me that Peter has two jobs; solicitor and counsellor. Am I really prepared to be giving people advice on dealing with personal relationships?


4 thoughts on “Day One

  1. David Smalls

    Why are you being a snob about doing a vacation scheme at a smaller firm, a lot of people would love that opportunity yet you compare it to Shakespeare Martineau at every given moment, didn’t you pay for the one at Shakespeare Martineau anyway?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi David, thank you for getting in touch.

      That is correct I did pay for accommodation and transport in Birmingham.

      I think that your view of me as a “snob” is a matter of opinion and not fact, and that may well have been construed from the way this piece was written. I am therefore not going to contest this point because I feel that it would not be of value to my audience.

      The purpose of this piece is to critically assess the differences between my own personal experience of working in a commercial firm and high street firm. I believe that it is in the interest of my readers to give my own personal opinion of which I prefer. The initiative of this blog is to outline “the story of an aspiring solicitor”, and so it is not difficult to understand that the content is of my own personal opinion.

      I have enjoyed both of the opportunities much so. I have met many warm and intelligent people who are passionate about what they do. I have been able to more accurately envisage my career plan. More importantly, I have been able to share this experience with other aspiring solicitors who face similar problems, such as the ‘High Street of Commercial’ question.

      I am very sorry that this did not come across in the piece, and I am thankful for you taking the time to read and reply.


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