The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Leathes Prior is one of East Anglia’s leading law firms offering a full range of legal services to organisations and individuals in Norfolk and beyond. The firm’s offering has stood the test of time (over 140 years to be specific), but it is also always looking at ways to develop to ensure it is providing the best possible service to its diverse and loyal client base.
The star performers
Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Corporate and commercial; Crime: fraud; Crime: general
Leathes Prior’s work ranges from corporate matters to criminal cases to property transactions. The firm acts for small and large businesses based in Norfolk and elsewhere in East Anglia, as well as companies with a national scope. The sectors in which the firm operates include those such as healthcare, accounting, haulage, offshore oil and gas and construction. The commercial property practice acts for clients in a diverse range of sectors including residential development, property investment, financial services, regional, retail and agriculture.
Leathes Prior acts for clients in Norfolk, as well as further afield in East Anglia and, in some cases, nationally.
‘The promise of early responsibility’ enticed Leathes Prior trainees, many of whom also saw an opportunity to align their interests with the areas of law in which the firm operates. Boasting a ‘very good reputation in Norwich’, a city which recruits are ‘fond of’, the firm is ‘capable of doing both regional and national-scale work’. It comes as no surprise then that the ‘variety of work’ was consistently praised and that the firm is a Lex 100 Winner for job satisfaction, quality of work and social life. Despite ‘spanning four buildings’ which, can mean that ‘you feel a bit detached from the rest of the firm’, the size of Leathes Prior was one of the main attractions for many trainees. The ‘very friendly and approachable people’ contribute to the ‘sociable nature of the firm’ and there is ‘a number of partners who are willing to socialise after work with trainees and younger solicitors’. Back in the office, there is also ‘more partner exposure’ in a professional capacity, which no doubt adds to the ‘variety of work and responsibilities given over the course of the two years’. Importantly, trainees are given a ‘regular opportunity to network and build connections within the local area’: a sure-fire sign that the firm is invested in their long-term careers. ‘Managing my own mini-caseload’ excited one recruit, whilst having to ‘apologise to a client for a mistake that I had made’ embarrassed another. If you’re looking for ‘more responsibility and quality work to complete from the outset’ of your training contract, take a closer look at Leathes Prior.
A day in the life of...
Lily Beel First-year trainee solicitor
Departments to date: Employment and residential conveyancing
No two days as a trainee are the same; you are always given new tasks relating to various areas of law. My first seat was in residential conveyancing and I was instantly provided with client contact and key responsibilities. Leathes Prior are great at giving you a lot of exposure, so that you get to experience the tasks you would be doing once qualified, first hand.
I am currently in the employment team, an incredibly varied seat with lots going on (both in the office and socially). When I arrive, I check emails and write a to-do list; my first tip – although tasks will change in priority as the day progresses, it is helpful to remain focused and ensure even the smallest of tasks are not forgotten.
I start by answering a query for a client who would like to know the steps they need to take to discipline an unruly employee. I then need to make sure Dan Chapman, head of the employment team, has all of the documents required for a preliminary hearing at the Employment Tribunal. The employment team provide you with lots of exposure to the world of employment litigation and one valuable opportunity you will be given in the seat is attending hearings to see the team in action.
Dan and I head to the Tribunal together, giving me the opportunity to discuss the issues of the claim with him. We meet with the client upon arrival (a great chance to introduce myself to someone I will be liaising with throughout the seat). During the hearing, I write notes, making sure I record key dates. We then have a debrief with the client and head back to the office. I type up the key points of the hearing, write a follow-up email to the client and update the calendar.
It is then time for lunch – trainees regularly meet up for lunch to catch up and make the most of our superb location. Leathes Prior prides itself on being a sociable place to work, actively encouraging staff to get together outside of the office. Another top tip is to make the most of this, as (fingers crossed) you may end up working with these colleagues throughout your career.
After lunch I review an employment contract requiring touch-ups and bespoke drafting of restrictive covenants. This challenging task is a real opportunity to impress the client and put myself in their position. A top tip is to take your time with work like this to do it well first time rather than rush it, making trivial mistakes.
I am suddenly tasked with a query from a client wondering whether they have breached the Working Time Regulations. In this team you have to be prepared to respond to urgent queries from clients who use our Employmentor service which provides unlimited advice for an annual fee. Many queries require research as employment is law always changing. This allows me to hone my research skills and improve on concisely summarising information. The employment team is excellent at providing feedback, something all trainees seem to find really helpful in their journey to qualification.
After work I attend a gin tasting event with the Norwich Young Professionals Group. These events are great for socialising and enable me to cement relationships with individuals I may end up working closely with and develop my networking skills – an integral skillset for any lawyer.
I would strongly recommend applying for a training contract with Leathes Prior if you relish a challenge, want to be given early responsibility, first-rate feedback and fantastic opportunities right from the very start of your legal career.
About the firm
Address:74 The Close, Norwich, NR1 4DR
Telephone: 01603 610911
Management committee: Dan Chapman
Management committee: Darren Bowen
Management committee: Alisdair Douglas
Management committee: Richard Guthrie
HR partner: William Riley
Who we are: Leathes Prior is a leading East Anglian firm operating from offices in the picturesque Cathedral Close and Tombland areas of Norwich.
What we do: We provide a comprehensive legal service to a wide variety of commercial and private clients, with specialist niche offerings including: Full Contact (sports law), mediation1st, employmentor, debtcollector and Traffic Lawyers.
What we are looking for: Save for exceptional cases, we look for a minimum 2:1 degree (in any discipline), a genuine desire to practise law and a preponderance of A or A* grades at A level, as well as the ability to spell preponderance. You should possess good commercial awareness, marketing skills and a desire to work in an environment where initiative is rewarded and responsibility comes early.
What you'll do:We aim to compile training programmes to meet the wishes of individual trainees. The normal pattern is four six-month seats. All trainees will work closely with the firm’s partners and will gain excellent hands-on experience of contentious and non-contentious work.
Perks: Trainees will benefit from health cover, discounts at Norwich Theatre Royal and the option to participate in various social and sporting events on behalf of the firm.
Sponsorship:Financial support by way of an interest-free loan to be used towards the LPC is available.
Facts and figures
Total partners: 14
Other fee-earners: 37
Total trainees: 7
Trainee places available for 2021: 2-4
Applications received pa: c100
Percentage interviewed: 10-20%
First year: £21,000
Second year: £22,000
Newly qualified: £33,000