A Day In The Life Of A Corporate Trainee Solicitor

Trainee solicitor Jade Atkinson takes us through a busy day in the Corporate and Commercial Property department at the Butcher & Barlow head office in Bury.


As a trainee solicitor in the Corporate and Commercial Property department, my day can vary substantially depending on what my supervising Partner, James Hodgson, requires me to do. I am currently based at the Bury office which is in the midst of expanding its Commercial team, and so it is an exciting time to be based in the department.

As can no doubt be said for anyone working in an office (or for that matter any!) environment, the day always begins with a cup of tea and a check through of my emails to see if anything urgent has come in overnight. The department is fast-paced.  With a client base made up primarily of businesses or people with business interests, and on occasions there being a number of different parties involved in any one transaction, developments in transactions are always occurring.  You quickly become used to leaving the office in an evening with one set of instructions and returning in the morning to a new set of instructions. It is the requirement of being adaptable to change yet retaining a high degree of efficiency and attention to detail that makes working in the department engaging, challenging and fulfilling.

Once the emails have been checked and any urgent matters of priority discussed with James as to who will be dealing with them, I will begin to work through my task list which I will have prepared the night before. The list can be as simple as emailing clients with an update on their case, to drafting a shareholders agreement for a company, or preparing a report on title for a purchase of a commercial property by a pension fund.

Organisation in this department is key.  Transactional work involves drafting, amending and negotiating on the terms of, at times, extremely lengthy documents, it is important that you are able to keep up with the fast paced nature of these negotiations whilst keeping your client up to date with what is happening.

Today’s task list involves some general administrative work, reviewing a title to a property, and considering the terms of a lease for a new client who is looking to take occupation of a unit on an industrial estate.  I also have a couple of completions of purchases by the trustees of a pension fund.

We regularly act for pension funds in purchasing commercial properties as investments which tend then to be leased back out to a member’s company and this is an area of work I particularly enjoy. The transactions covers several elements of corporate and commercial property work such as being aware of the pension funds requirements and the transactional side of purchasing a commercial property on an industrial estate.  This means you must consider both the unit as an independent facility as well as the estate as a whole and also be able to draft the lease for a Landlord. During these transactions you act for the trustees of the pension fund, which will generally be a pension fund company, alongside the member who ultimately owns the assets of the pension fund. By representing a sophisticated user (the pension fund) and a lay person (the member) you have to adapt to both the requirements and time scales of both parties who are instructing you as one client; having to balance the strict requirements of the pension fund to comply with the stringent regulations they are bound by and also a member who is keen for the sale to complete as soon as possible is always challenging yet rewarding when the transaction concludes.

However much you plan a day and write a list, it is a rare day where the list is not deviated from. Later on in the afternoon James comes through to advise he has received urgent instructions from an existing client on the purchase of some shares in a company which they want to complete on as soon as possible. He has asked me to start going through all the documents we have received in so far and creating a task list of what needs to be done. I therefore spend the last few hours of the afternoon reviewing the documents we have received in and considering what needs to be done so we can move the transaction forward as swiftly yet diligently as possible, ensuring to manage the clients expectations as to what will be required.

I then conclude the day by preparing tomorrow’s task list, including any items I did not get round to finishing today due to the urgent new instruction that came in.

The benefit of working in a close-knit commercial property department is the experience and exposure you get as a trainee solicitor right from the start. I regularly get to liaise with clients, draft transactional documents and deal with completions. I have found that having this exposure, although at times can be difficult, has given me the confidence and skills I need for when I qualify to become a competent and successful solicitor.

If you are interested in becoming a trainee solicitor with Butcher & Barlow click through to our careers page to find out more.

The Butcher & Barlow Corporate and Commercial Team at our Bury Head Office is headed up by James Hodgson, a specialist in all corporate and commercial property matters. If you would like any advice or have any enquiries contact James Hodsgon on 0161 764 4062 or email jhodgson@butcher-barlow.co.uk.

an image of Jade Atkinson, a Butcher & Barlow LLP employee

Jade Atkinson

an image of James Hodgson, a Butcher & Barlow LLP employee

James Hodgson