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Construction & property risk

21 March 2011

What does the team do?

The team is split between the construction and property litigation. The construction side does both contentious and non-contentious work that include drafting of construction contracts, giving advice as to warranties and indemnities and generally assisting their construction clients in their day to day legal questions.

The contentious work done by the team involves commercial disputes which have a construction element. In most cases this involves participation in adjudication, mediation or arbitration.

The property litigation work undertaken by the team is often received from the property department; however the team has a number of established clients, which includes Boots. The work done is contentious and common issues include: landlord and tenant disputes, rent review, dilapidations and interests in land by adverse possession.

What type of work does a trainee do?

A trainee’s time in theory would be split equally between the property litigation side and the construction side, however, the work each fee earner has on at the time will dictate how much of each element you are given.

In construction, much of the work done currently is contentious. This involves researching the client’s position and potential options available to them. You are likely to be involved with the drafting of letters of advice to clients and with the solicitors representing the other side.

From the property litigation side, there will be a fair amount of research given the technical nature of this area of law.

What level of responsibility/hands on experience (i.e. manage your own files etc) does a trainee receive?

This will obviously depend on the nature of the work that you are undertaking. Whilst it is unlikely that you will manage your own files, because the size of the claims are often quite large, there are occasions for smaller claims to be given to a trainee to manage.

The work done by the construction team is likely to give a trainee greater contact with clients. In contrast, the tasks undertaken for the property litigation team mean that you are more likely to be reporting directly to the fee earner. This is because the area of property litigation is more specialised, whereas in construction you will be able to apply general commercial dispute experience.

From my experience in the seat, the team are keen to give the trainee as much client contact as possible. I was able to attend a site inspection on a Construction file and to meet the client and a number of building experts. In addition, I was also able to attend meetings with a client who wanted a Partner in the team to oversee an adjudication. Also, despite moving to another seat, the property litigation team have been happy for me to attend a trial at the High Court as this has been a file I have worked on extensively during my 6 month seat.

How much client contact does a trainee get?

As above, the client contact is more likely to be greater in the construction side of the work you do, as opposed to property litigation. In Property Litigation you will more regularly be undertaking research for a specific fee earner.

What has been the highlight for you in this seat?

The highlight for me has been the work I have done on the file which is due to be heard in the High Court in London. This is a property litigation case which I have been involved with from the start of my time in the seat. The issue in this case relates to certain planning restrictions, and I had been asked to undertake research on this point. Furthermore, I have assisted with assembling the trial bundle and in producing documentation for Counsel.