Olivia Keith – Trainee Blog
This month has flown by with the Private Client team keeping me busy with various matters. The department is very client interactive and so I have been involved with more client meetings. I have enjoyed the personal element of this department and honing my client care skills. In addition, I have had the opportunity to draft more documents including Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trust documents and applications to the Court of Protection. On a day-to-day basis I have been progressing the probate file that I have been given and this has not only kept me busy but I think it has been invaluable hands-on experience in how an estate is administered.
Seeing as Private Client work is mainly focused around clients who are individuals as opposed to companies, I thought it would be a good time to complete the Client Care and Professional Standards Course. In order to qualify as a solicitor under the current “period of recognised training” route, you have to complete a series of core modules followed by additional elective modules of your choice before you reach the end of your two year period of recognised training. Time is going by so quickly I thought I had best get another module under my belt and so I completed the Client Care module at the end of this month. The course was enjoyable and highlighted the many duties and responsibilities solicitors and legal professionals owe to their clients. I have one more core module to complete which I am hoping to squeeze in before the end of the year leaving my elective modules for my final seat.
Outside of work I attended a Q&A session at York St John University where first year law students were able to ask questions about what working in law was like and the application process. It was nice to speak to students about Rollits as a firm and to reflect on my time as a student when I, like them, was an aspiring solicitor.
This month I have been continuing my training in the York office with the Private Client team. I have been involved with a lot of initial client meetings which have helped me to grasp the various problems the Private Client team tackle and the different ways of approaching lifetime planning. I have been exposed to multiple ways of drafting a will and how trusts can be used to ring fence money and other assets. Excitingly, I have also been given my own file to run (supervised of course) which is for the administration of an estate. This has allowed me to put into practice the steps required from the beginning of a matter and I am sure that it will be a great learning curve; I only hope that I can complete it before my time in the department comes to an end!
October has also been a busy month for activities outside of the office. I attended the Woldgate Career’s Fair and spoke to GCSE students about a legal career and what being a trainee at Rollits was like. It was good to be back at my old secondary school and interesting to discuss the new SQE and alternative routes such as legal apprenticeships which have replaced the LPC. The Private Client team were also invited to an event hosted by PenLife Associates and so I attended this at York Malmaison’s rooftop bar and whilst the weather was not co-operative the views were fantastic and the food was delicious (and yes it was also a good opportunity to meet other local professionals!). Rollits also kindly arranged a ghost bus tour of York for all employees in anticipation of Halloween and this was a fun way to see the city. I am looking forward to continuing my training with the Private Client team and seeing what the next month will bring.
At the beginning of September I moved to the York office based at Monks Cross to start my Private Client seat. September is also a milestone as I am now a second year trainee and have one year left before I qualify. During my first month in the Private Client team I have drafted a Will and some Deeds of Retirement/Appointment of Trustees. I have also drafted letters and emails to various 3rd parties to further the administration of different estates. This has helped me to better my knowledge of how the wishes of a Will are carried out in the administration of a deceased person’s estate and I am confident that my understanding of this area will increase in the coming months.
Outside of the office, I took part in York St John’s University mock training contract assessment day for their LPC students. This involved observing 5 students undertake a group exercise that required them to showcase their skills of team work, negotiation and presenting skills. The students were then invited to a mock training contract interview with Suzgo Kaluluma (a partner in the Rollits’ Private Client department) and myself. The students had prepared CVs and Covering Letters which we provided feedback on as well as the group exercise and their interview technique. The event was a great opportunity to meet other trainees and junior lawyers from local firms and in addition, the University tutors had arranged a networking event in the evening where the LPC students could ask questions in a more informal setting. It was great to see so many aspiring solicitors interested in Rollits and it was nice to speak to people who may be potential colleagues in the future, although, it has to be said I do not envy them studying the LPC!
August is my final month in the Commercial Property department and marks not only the end of another seat but also the mid-way point of my training contract. Reflecting on the last year I feel much more confident in my skills and am more proficient in drafting, researching and client care than when I started. Each month seems to go by quicker than the last and I think this is down to increasing responsibility as I progress. This month I have continued to assist the department with research tasks, drafting various documents such as a contract for a freehold purchase subject to occupational leases and liaising with clients. The department continues to challenge me and I am learning something new each day.
In September I not only move department but move office! Next month I will begin my seat in the Private Client department in our York office. I am looking forward to working with some new faces and as this is an area of law of which I have a very basic knowledge only, I am looking forward to developing in this area.
Another month has flown by in the Commercial Property Department and I have been busy with various matters including multiple lease reports.
These are reports which summarise the main provisions of a prospective lease, thus enabling the client to flag any concerns before completion and also provides a summary document for referral going forward.
Rollits are in the midst of their annual intake of summer vacation scheme students and it has been great to be involved with the scheme and get to know prospective future trainees of the firm.
This month in the Commercial Property Department a lot of the transactions that I have been involved with have come to completion. This has kept me busy and it has been satisfying to see these matters go over the line. With completion often comes the payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) and so this month, amongst other things, I have drafted numerous SDLT returns.
SDLT is payable on any residential purchase above £125,000 and on commercial land and properties exceeding £150,000. Freehold purchases are usually straightforward when calculating SDLT as it is calculated according to the consideration paid with an additional 3% surcharge if the buyer owns more than one property. However, SDLT can also be charged in situations that on first glance may be overlooked such as when granting or surrendering a lease.
Leasehold transactions can be more complex as the Net Present Value has to be calculated which is the total rent over the life of the lease. This is calculated (luckily using an online calculator) using the first 5 years rent or anticipated rent of the lease. Rent review provisions within the first 5 years therefore have to be considered and if these are based on, for example, turnover or an upwards only market rent review basis then the exact figure will not be known. In these circumstances an estimate should be given and when the earlier of: the actual amount of rent being known or the conclusion of the first 5 years of the term, and the NPV is higher than initially estimated on the original SDLT return, another return should be submitted. This is important to remember as HMRC does not send out a reminder.
Rollits hosted their charity of the year Hull 4 Heroes this month for an elevenses where their founder Paul Matson gave a talk on the work of the charity and their upcoming projects including building a local veterans village. It was inspiring to hear the work that local people are involved in to help ex-military families and the fundraising projects that are making a difference.
I am now half-way through my Commercial Property seat and I am excited to see what the next 3 months will bring.
This month I have been very busy in the Commercial Property Department. I am getting more accustomed to the processes of commercial property transactions and have now had the opportunity of seeing matters progress from the beginning which has been helpful. With two matters in particular I have been able to draft and then send (once approved) all correspondence to the client and opposing solicitor which has aided my understanding of how a commercial purchase progresses and also my client engagement skills.
Drafting has continued to be an integral skill in this department and I have drafted numerous applications to Land Registry in order to register various documents such as transfers, closures of leasehold titles and noting of easements. The Land Registry can be quite exacting when it comes to submitting documents and so I have had to read up on their Practice Guides in order to make sure the correct forms are being used and the right supporting evidence has been supplied.
Rollits organised an Easter Elevenses this month where a local chocolatier came and gave the firm a workshop on chocolate tasting. This was an interesting session and something I had never done before. Everyone who attended received hand crafted chocolates to sample which were amazing! Following this Rollits gave all staff an Easter egg - suffice to say I had my fill of chocolate over Easter!
I am looking forward to seeing what next month brings and continuing my training in the Property Department.
This month I have moved seats into the Commercial Property Department with my fellow trainee Emma. It is nice to be working alongside someone else who is new to this area of the law and already I have been involved with a variety of matters. I have drafted licence and lease reports, a lease itself and a transfer of part amongst other things. I am enjoying the transactional nature of this seat and that often there is a clear structure or process to follow. It is apparent that in order to be a good property lawyer you need to anticipate the next stage of the process/any issues that the other side or client will flag up and decide how to tackle this in advance.
Work in the Property Department is fast paced and I look forward to keeping busy and learning more over the coming months.
Outside of work, I took part in the Smailes Goldie Annual Quiz along with some other colleagues from Rollits. This was a fun night at the Country Park Inn at Hessle and the largest in person event I have been to since before the start of the Pandemic. It is nice that events such as these can be held in person again and I look forward to going to more events over the summer.
This blog will be my final one in the Company/Commercial department and I cannot believe my time in this seat is coming to a close. 6 months has gone in the blink of an eye and whilst I am excited to start work in the Commercial Property Department I will definitely miss Company/Commercial. I have enjoyed the diversity of work and getting involved with the different teams; it has also opened my eyes to the interplay between different departments and how teamwork is often needed to achieve a client’s objectives.
One of the most interesting things I have taken part in this month was a judicial mediation. This was conducted via telephone and involved an Employment Judge mediating a settlement between claimant and respondent. It was really insightful to see how this process works and how a compromise can be achieved between parties outside of a tribunal.
Even though January is often thought of as the longest month of the year, time still seems to be flying by in the Company/Commercial department. This month I have been honing my research and drafting skills and have been involved with a lot of client meetings which has been a good experience. One of the most interesting things I have been involved with this month is some Pro-Bono work with the Employment Team in which I had the opportunity to research the necessary material and attend the advice sessions. January was also our annual conference which was held at the MKM Stadium and was a great opportunity to meet more members of the firm and enjoy some hospitality.