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Lily Dobson

Lily is a second year trainee at Rollits. Her current seat is in the Private Capital department.

March 2020 - March marks my first month in the Property Department. Everyone has been extremely welcoming and I have felt supported whilst settling in to my second seat.

In terms of work, it is a busy department and I was immediately given a variety tasks to be getting on with. There is also a lot of client contact and liaising with other solicitors, which is something that I have enjoyed.

I assisted in the voluntary first registration of plots of land. This involved going through boxes of deeds relating to the land, in order to establish the root of title. When applying to register land at the Land Registry, we have to be able to demonstrate ownership dating back to 1925. This was a time-consuming task, particularly since this was my first time looking at deeds, some of which dated back to the 19th century, but this was a great learning exercise to familiarise myself with these sorts of documents. Also, being involved in the registration process from the outset also helped me to understand how and why land is registered. The applications have now been sent off, so it will be interesting to see the response from the Land Registry.

I also reviewed a lease in light of its termination provisions. Many commercial leases contain a break clause, which is the ability to terminate the lease at an early stage. This usually involves serving a break notice at a specified date. Everything must be done correctly and in accordance with the lease, or else the tenant will not be able to terminate. My task was to review the break clause and see what our client, the tenant, had to do in order to terminate the lease. I drafted a break notice, and also liaised with our Dispute Resolution Department to ensure compliance with the break provision.

The review of the break notice also came in useful when I was tasked with drafting a break provision for a different lease. It was interesting to consider the same provision, but from the landlord’s perspective.

I was also tasked with reviewing a reversion plan in light of the powers of sale. A reversion plan is an equity release scheme, and these are not commonly used. My job was to consider the company’s ability to sell the property after the death of the inhabitant.

I also conducted a review of a call option agreement. These are commonly used where developers of land want the option to purchase additional land at a later date. This offers flexibility and generally allows developers time to gain planning permission prior to purchasing land. The purpose of my review was to see if this was fair from the landowner’s perspective and whether there were any provisions which ought to be included, or removed.

I also considered research on stamp duty land tax and drafted a letter to HMRC applying for multiple dwelling relief.

At the start of March I also attended the Hull Collegiate Careers Fair. This event was organised for students looking to choose their GCSEs and A-Levels. It was a successful event and we spoke to many students and parents and answered their questions about a career in law.

I have enjoyed my first month in the Property Department and am grateful to my colleagues for making me feel so welcome and for taking the time to assist me when learning new things. Clearly with the Covid-19 pandemic, it has also been an unusual month. We are now all working from home. However, I think that this has highlighted our ability as a firm to adapt and to continue to provide an excellent service to ouor clients. Despite not being in the office with my colleagues, there is still a strong feeling of team-spirit and I am looking forward to learning more in April.

February 2020 - It is hard to believe that the first seat of my period of recognised training has come to an end. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here in the Company Commercial Department; my workload and responsibility has increased overtime, but I have felt supported and encouraged by my colleagues throughout the last six months, for which I am grateful.

In terms of charities work, I assisted in drafting an application for a Community Amateur Sports Club converting to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (“CIO). I also drafted some minutes dealing with an asset transfer from an unincorporated charity to a CIO and a limited company. I also did some research on whether the erection of a statue can be classed as a charitable purpose.

In terms of corporate work, I researched whether a private company limited by guarantee could convert to a private company limited by shares, the answer to this was no, a new company would have to be set up, and then there would need to be an asset transfer from the old company. A couple of tasks involved me investigating the group structure of a couple of companies. This involved looking through the filing history on Companies House in order to establish shareholders. Over the past couple of months I worked on a loan agreement and this month the deal completed. The broker letter required by the banks was made a condition subsequent, and I was tasked with comparing the draft received from the banks, with that received from the broker. I did a further research task in which I considered whether the terms of a share purchase agreement could be renegotiated after the deal has concluded. Specifically, I considered how any renegotiation would be dealt with i.e. whether this would be an amendment to the original agreement or whether there would need to be a new agreement. I also considered this in relation to stamp duty. I was also able to draft a number of documents to effect a share reorganisation; these were a shareholders’ written resolution, board minutes and new Articles of Association.

For the employment team I calculated statutory redundancy for a number of employees. I also analysed a consultancy agreement, as well as investigating the group structure of a company in relation to a potential claim for unfair dismissal.

In terms of commercial work, I was able to assist in drafting a couple of EU trade mark specifications for a brand looking to expand their protection in other countries. I conducted several research tasks in relation to data protection; I considered the subject access request exemptions in response to a number of client queries. I also attended an initial meeting which related to the drafting of a service agreement.

I am now looking forward to joining the Property Department for my second seat.

January 2020 - As usual this month has passed so quickly in the Company Commercial Department, and after all of the festivities it has been good to get back into a normal routine.

Throughout January I worked on a variety of corporate tasks, including drafting a loan agreement. This agreement was originally drafted by the other side, but needing amending. This was a great learning exercise because I was able to adapt some precedent clauses, as well as having a go at drafting parts myself. I have also assisted in finalising a loan agreement; this involved establishing which condition precedents had been satisfied and which were still outstanding. I was also involved in a couple of due diligence tasks. I considered the responses to a due diligence questionnaire and highlighted any that I deemed insufficient, or which had not been answered. I was also asked to draft a letter to confirm a share sale.

In terms of employment work I researched the redundancy process in relation to offering a ‘suitable alternative role’ and produced a memo summarising my findings.

This month has also offered a lot of commercial work. At the start of January I attended a client meeting which involved extending the scope of the service that the client is currently providing; this involved altering the existing service agreement to reflect this. Also, due to the nature of the service, this also involved considering whether authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority was required. I conducted several research tasks including the winding up procedure of a further education statutory corporation, the purpose and effect of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, and GDPR-related research. A piece of work I found particularly interesting was on partnership law in relation to a commercial agency agreement. This involved considering whether a retired partner would be entitled to an indemnity payment upon termination of an agency agreement to which he was party when it was formed.

I was also involved in considering the assignment of US patents to a UK company. During my time in the Commercial Department I have enjoyed the intellectual property work so it was interesting to see how the US system differs to ours.

We also had our Rollits 2020 vision event at The Deep. This was a great success and an opportunity to meet with clients and remind them of our ethos. I also attended the Beverley High School careers fair, it was great to return to my secondary school and speak with students about pursuing a career in law.

It has been another great month and I am excited to see what my final month in the Company Commercial Department will bring.

December 2019 - December has been a busy and exciting month here at Rollits, both from a work perspective and with all of the festive events in the run up to Christmas and New Year.

In terms of work for the Corporate Team, I have continued to conduct searches, predominantly company searches. I have found that as my experience has developed, I can locate the relevant information quicker. I also reviewed the responses to a due diligence questionnaire which was sent to the other side. The purpose of this task was to identify any responses which I thought were unclear or insufficient. I also produced several documents to be sent to clients, such as a summary of the share transfer procedure under the relevant articles of association, in addition to a table summarising the restrictive covenants under a share purchase agreement. I found these tasks very beneficial because in order to explain the process without overcomplicating it, I had to have a good understanding myself.

For the Charities Team I have sourced reports in preparation for grants being awarded. I have also conducted several research tasks, one of which was whether a charity was under an obligation to register a deed of novation at Companies House.

In terms of commercial work I have researched the process of applying for an international trade mark. I then drafted a helpful guide which is to be sent to clients. I found this task very useful because not only did I develop my understanding of the international trade mark process, I also had the opportunity to develop my skills of producing a document to be accessible by clients. I also assisted in producing a due diligence report. This involved reviewing contracts for the key information, such as the value, duration and key provisions.

For the Employment Team I conducted some research on maternity leave and then produced a note detailing what I had found.

There has also been a lot of excitement in the office in the run up to Christmas. At the start of the month I attended the Humber Business Week Christmas event at the Hilton in Hull. This was a great opportunity to network with local professionals. We also had the Rollits Christmas conference at The Deep in Hull. This was a fantastic event in which we celebrated the success of the year and also found out about exciting things to come in 2020. I also attended the Company Commercial Department Christmas meal in Beverley; it was great to socialise with colleagues outside of work. I also had the opportunity to watch a motivational speaker at Beverley High School which I found very interesting.

It has been another great month and I am excited to see what 2020 holds.

November 2019 - Throughout November my responsibility has increased and I have enjoyed being involved in a range of matters from all of the teams within the Company Commercial Department.

In terms of corporate work, I attended a client meeting regarding the acquisition of a partnership by a limited company. During the meeting we ran through the asset purchase agreement; I found it very useful to understand the practicalities of the clauses and how they would affect the parties involved. I subsequently assisted in drafting the deed of retirement for one of the partners. I also assisted in drafting a shareholders’ agreement. This was a challenging task which involved adapting an existing agreement but also drafting new clauses, including a deadlock provision and a reversed vesting mechanism. In addition to this I also assisted in advising a client on the restrictive covenants in an existing share purchase agreement. Many tasks are starting to become more familiar, such as company searches and completing forms for Companies House. It is encouraging to see my progression since I started in the department.

For the Charities Team I have completed several research tasks which included the requirements of a Community Amateur Sports Club (“CASC”), and the rules on permanent endowment. I also assisted with, and attended, a charities seminar held at the Rollits Hull office earlier in the month. This was a very useful insight into charity law, something which I was unfamiliar with prior to starting at Rollits.

In terms of commercial work I have been able to assist on the application of trade marks, and I also conducted research on special category marks. Data protection legislation is starting to become more familiar and I gained further experience with subject access requests. I have also completed several research tasks, including when there is deemed acceptance when sending a notice by Royal Mail ‘Signed For’ delivery and whether a company director can also be a commercial agent.

In relation to employment work, I sat in on a couple of telephone calls which related to settlement agreements. Later in the month I attended a client meeting in which one of our solicitors was acting as the independent legal advisor. This meeting involved running through the settlement agreement and ensuring that the client was satisfied with its provisions and the effect of the agreement. I also researched whether electronic signature could be used on witness statements.

This month we also had our Rollits Annual Quiz, hosted by James Peel and the Employee Forum. This was a great event in which we were put into teams and completed different rounds. This was a great chance for everyone to get together, and it was also good to see people from the York office come across for the event.

I am excited to see my responsibility increase even further over the next month. I also look forward to the 2019 Conference which is to be held at The Deep, as well as the Company Commercial Christmas night out.

October 2019 - My second month in the Company Commercial Department has flown by and I am thoroughly enjoying my time in this seat. Everyone has been extremely helpful and patient whilst I have been settling in. My workload has been steadily increasing over the past month, and I am gaining experience in Commercial, Corporate and Employment matters.

In terms of commercial work, I have been involved in drafting a number of agreements including a sponsorship agreement and a learner-find agreement. I found it extremely useful sitting in on telephone calls with clients, understanding the purpose of the agreement, and then having a go at drafting with this information in mind. I have found the feedback from my colleagues very helpful; I already feel as though my knowledge has developed significantly and I am confident that it will continue to do so throughout this seat. I have also assisted on drafting website terms and conditions as well as privacy and cookies policies. Both of these were completely new to me, but the Commercial Department encounters these on a regular basis, so it is likely that I will be involved in a number of these agreements during my time here. My colleagues also deal with data protection matters, some of which I have been involved with; I have helped with subject access requests as well as conducting research. I have also been involved in some trade mark matters, including assisting in drafting a specification for a European Union Trade Mark. I studied Intellectual Property on the Legal Practice Course so I have found it very interesting putting the theory into practice.

In relation to work for the Employment Department, I helped with an in-house seminar earlier in the month. This was hosted at the Rollits Hull office and was the ideal opportunity to network. I was also able to attend the seminar which was a useful refresher on the employment tribunal system. I also assisted in preparing my first trial bundle; this was for a case which is due to be heard later this month. I was also present on telephone calls with clients relating to settlement agreements, and then prepared the subsequent file notes.

I have conducted a number of company searches for the Corporate Department, and also drafted my first set of board minutes. In addition to this I attended a telephone call with a prospective client relating to the removal of a director. This then resulted in a research task to establish the circumstances in which a company can buy back their own shares.

I am continuing to enjoy my time here in the Company Commercial Department and I am excited to see what the next month will bring.

September 2019 - After graduating from my degree in LLB Law at University of Hull in 2018, I then completed the Legal Practice Course with MSc in Business, Law and Management at University of Law in Leeds in 2019 and then came straight to Rollits to start my Period of Recognised Training.

My first week was filled with inductions on how to use the systems and getting to grips with how things are done here at Rollits. This induction week was very well organised and I immediately knew I would have a strong support system throughout my two years of training. I was also pleased to meet my supervisor who will oversee my two years of training, as well as my mentor who will oversee me in my first department.

It is now week four in the Company Commercial Department. The next six months will incorporate commercial, corporate and employment work so I am looking forward to gaining experience in all of these areas. Everyone has been extremely welcoming and I am being kept busy. So far I have assisted with commercial matters including drafting a sponsorship agreement and a services agreement. I also assisted on corporate matters such as reviewing a Share Purchase Agreement and conducting winding-up and bankruptcy searches. In addition to this I was also able to help on a number of employment matters, including drafting a suspension letter and conducting research.

I have also been involved in activities outside of work time; I assisted in the Heritage Open Day which was held at the Rollits Hull office. This was a great opportunity to learn more about the Firm and its connection to Hull, as well meeting new people. I will also be attending the Hull Incorporated Law Society Ball this week. I am thoroughly enjoying my time at Rollits so far and I am excited to see what the next six months will bring!

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