A day in the life of a trainee in the Housing and Regeneration (Litigation) department

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Alice McKenna

I'm Alice, a first year trainee at Forbes Solicitors currently in my second seat of my training contract in the Housing and Regeneration (Litigation) department.

The Housing and Regeneration department provide specialist, comprehensive legal advice to the Housing sector nationally however my training contract is focused on working predominantly in the Anti Social Behavior (ASB) team, who use injunction, possession and committal proceedings to protect residents from perpetrators of anti-social behaviour. The team also assist clients in dealing with other breaches of tenancy including hoarding, untidy gardens and pet nuisance.

My first two weeks in the seat were super busy, as I was navigating my way round a new office, meeting my new team, and learning about the department. I also spent some time out of the office, shadowing colleagues at courts across the region and at a legal advice surgery the team puts on for some of our clients.

On Monday 23rd March 2020, I attended court as an advocate for the first time for a hearing where I obtained a successful outcome for our client, which felt great. Following this hearing, I set up my new office in my dining room at home and began working from home.

Below I have created a typical 'day in the life' as a trainee working from home in the ASB team, so you can see what I get up to.

08:50-09:00 - log into the system from my laptop, read emails, check diary and make a to do list for the day.

09:00-09:20 - respond to emails and communicate my workload and any potential capacity to my Head of Department.

09:20-09:50 - prepare for this mornings telephone hearing which should have taken place in person at Crewe County Court, but thanks to the flexibility of the Court and the Housing & Regeneration Administration Team making the necessary arrangements, it is now taking place via telephone.

09:50-10:10 - attend hearing over the phone before a Deputy District Judge.

10:10-10:30 - inform team and client of successful outcome of hearing.

10:30-12:45 - draft Warning Letters to tenants, advising them that legal action will be taken against them should they not cease their anti social behavior which is causing a nuisance.

12:45-13:30 - lunch time! Take my dog out for a walk and enjoy lunch whilst chatting to my family who are also working from home.

13:30-14:00 - check my diary for upcoming hearings which are due to be taking place over the next few days and make calls to the relevant Courts to discuss arrangements for the hearings in light of court closures.

14:00-15:00 - prepare Costs Schedules in preparation of upcoming hearings.

15:00-15:10 - check in with team via our WhatsApp group chat to ensure everyone is doing okay and workload is appropriately apportioned between team members.

15:10-16:00 - do some background reading on committals, including relevant sections of the CPR, case law, and sentencing guidelines.

16:00-17:00 - draft a claim form and a Particulars of Claim using evidence provided by our client in advance of issuing a new claim at court.

Though Covid-19 is impacting almost every aspect of our lives, I found the transition from working in the office to working from home well organized. Due to the high levels of communication with my colleagues, head of Department and the Training Principal, I feel supervised and confident that my training contract and development will not be adversely affected. In fact, it is a really interesting time to be working in the legal industry and seeing how systems are being forced to react. Further, it is interesting to see how Covid-19 is bringing in new work for the ASB team. Although Practice Direction 51Z has stayed all possession proceedings for the foreseeable future, which has resulted in me having limited exposure to attending court on possession matters, there is plenty of other work to be assisting on, especially new injunction cases. For example, a colleague recently successfully obtained an injunction on behalf of a client following a tenant paying little regard to the Government rules regarding social distancing by hosting a party where over 20 people attended the property. This injunction was the first 'Coronavirus injunction' secured in the country.

I have loved the first few weeks of my second seat and I am really looking forward to the next five months of continuing to learn and develop skills such as drafting, advocacy and teamwork.