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Olivia Keith

Olivia Keith is a first year Trainee at Rollits in Hull and her first seat is in the company & commercial department.

December 2021 - With the Christmas holidays just around the corner it seems a good time to reflect on my time at Rollits so far. Things have been very busy in the Corporate Commercial department this month as clients, understandably, want to get their affairs in order before the end of the year. The Employment Team have been especially busy and I have had the opportunity of assisting preparing documents for an Employment Tribunal and attending meetings with clients where advice was given on Settlement Agreements.

A Settlement Agreement is an agreement between Employer and Employee. A Settlement Agreement may be used where the Employee’s contract of employment is going to be terminated such as in the instance of redundancy. The Employer may ask the Employee to sign a Settlement Agreement waiving any employment claims they could have against their Employer. This helps to protect against the risk of Employees subsequently bringing claims such as unfair dismissal following redundancy and in return the Employer will often offer a termination payment which is more than the statutory redundancy sum the Employee would be entitled to. Therefore, if the Employee believes the situation to be a genuine redundancy situation and they do not have any employment claims to bring against their Employer, it is often in the best interests of the Employee to sign the Settlement Agreement. In this sense, a fair Settlement Agreement can mean a ‘win win’ situation for both parties, i.e the Employee will benefit from an increased payment upon termination of their employment and their Employer is safe in the knowledge that no claims such as unfair dismissal will be brought against them. One of the statutory requirements for a Settlement Agreement is that the Employee must receive independent legal advice and so it is important that this is sought before signing.

In order to get into the festive spirit, the firm organised a socially distanced Christmas Elevenses this month which involved a Christmas themed quiz, Christmas jumper competition and raffle. It was nice to come together as a firm and enjoy some festive cheer. I am looking forward to the Christmas break to spend some time with family and come back refreshed in January.

November 2021 - At the end of the month I will be halfway through my time in the Company Commercial Department. This has gone incredibly fast and I feel like I have already learnt a lot. One of the most interesting things I have done this month has been attending a Data Protection Audit for a client. This was voluntarily carried out to ensure that the client’s procedures for handling data were compliant with the UK GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018. Thankfully, their procedures were rigorous and there was little room for improvement. However, this has been a process, especially when the legislation was first introduced but is now a matter of maintenance rather than overhaul. The Audit did highlight, however, the relatively stringent and onerous measures needed in order to comply with the law and the potential financial liability if this is not adhered to. It was interesting to see what kind of work solicitors do outside of the office and the putting of theory into practice.

I also attended my first PSC course this month in Leeds. It was a three day ‘Financial and Business Skills’ course which involved looking at investments and anti-money laundering legislation alongside what work solicitors are able to carry out. In order to qualify as a solicitor you must undertake 3 core PSC modules and 3 elective modules during your two year training contract. It was nice to have the opportunity to meet other trainee solicitors from other firms, however, it has to be said I do not miss being in a classroom!

Trainees were also invited to a quiz organised by one of our partners for local firms and this was a great night, even if our score did not match our enthusiasm! As December approaches I am looking forward to getting involved in festivities with the firm.

October 2021 - As October comes to a close, it marks my second month in the Corporate/Commercial department. This month I have conducted research into a range of matters including some interesting topical discussions: Can employers require employees to wear a mask? Are there any specific legal obligations for clinically vulnerable employees? What happens if there is another lockdown and the government does not offer furlough pay? It has been interesting to see how Employment law has kept up with the ever changing standards imposed in relation to Covid-19.

I have also drafted a number of documents in order to effect: a Company’s Change of Name, a Reduction of Capital and an Allotment of Shares. This involved drafting numerous Board Minutes and Written Resolutions. Board Minutes record the decisions of the Directors of a Company, whilst Written Resolutions are authorities given by the Shareholders enabling certain decisions to be made. How Companies make decisions is dictated by their Articles of Association (akin to a rule book) and these have to be considered in relation to the law set out in the Companies Act 2006 (or earlier equivalent legislation). The interplay of the Companies Act and the Articles of Association is the formula used in corporate transactions to achieve the correct sequence of documentation required to effect changes in a Company. I have enjoyed the methodical process of assessing clients’ needs, researching the suit of documents required and tailoring them to the clients’ specific concerns. It has been useful to see transactions from start to finish and to get involved in client matters hands on.

I look forward to what the next few months in the Corporate/Commercial department will bring.

September 2021 - After a lot of anticipation I have finally started my training contract with Rollits. I am one of three new trainees at the firm and have started my first ‘seat’ in the Company Commercial department. I was a little unsure what to expect joining the firm in the current climate, however, everyone has made a real effort to make me feel welcome and as restrictions ease, I think it is an exciting time to join the firm.

So far I have been in Company Commercial for 4 weeks and already I am impressed with the variety of work undertaken here. Each day is different and I feel like I am putting knowledge from uni into practice whilst also gaining new skills that can only be acquired through working on real matters. Rollits assign each trainee with a ‘mentor’ in every department they work in and a supervisor who remains the same throughout the period of training. This has been invaluable in my first few weeks as there is always someone to ask when I have a question.

The majority of my tasks have been research based and often this involves looking into a specific query. This has been really useful as it provides an opportunity for me to broaden my understanding of the area as a whole before delving deeper into the crux of the matter. Company Commercial is an umbrella term for a number of teams and so I have been able to assist with Employment, Charity and Company matters. I have really enjoyed the work I have been involved with and it has been nice to meet the respective members of each team early on.

Outside of work, Rollits organised a firm wine tasting event at the ‘Little Wold Vineyard’ which was a nice way of meeting people outside of the department I work in and of course sampling the delicious wine!

I am very excited to see what the next few months of working in this department will bring and eager to improve my knowledge and skills in this area.

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