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Environment & advocacy

21 March 2011

What does the team do?

The team does a variety of work, including criminal advocacy, judicial review, environmental advice and regulatory work. The team is unique in Browne Jacobson because it is the only team which has a pupil (trainee barrister) as well as a trainee.

The advocacy side of the team does a lot of work for insurance companies. They represent the insured in a variety of situations. These include driving offences and prosecutions under the dangerous dogs act.

The advocacy team also assists clients who are being investigated by the health and safety executive (HSE). For example, when there has been a fatality on a building site. In a situation such as this we often represent the construction firm and would assist them when preparing for the inquest and any later HSE prosecution.

The advocacy team also advises on health and safety issues. For example, the applicability of the working at height regulations and the health and safety at work act.

The team has a costs section. They negotiate costs on behalf of our clients in the hope of achieving settlement and thus avoiding the additional expense of going to detailed cost assessment. The team also prepare detailed points of dispute if a settlement cannot be reached. Their work involves analysing the claimant’s bill of costs and deciding on areas where it can be reduced. In addition, the team prepares bills of costs so that costs can be recovered from central funds.

The environmental part of the team acts for clients such as Natural England, CCW and RSPB. Additionally, we act for NHS Trusts and local authorities. This work is very varied and can range from how to protect mussels in the Menai Strait to explaining to the Environment Agency how contaminated waste ended up in a non-contaminated waste stream.

The team also does a lot of work on the new academies programme, with Laura Hughes being one of the project co-ordinators.

What type of work does a trainee do?

The work is varied. As a trainee I do a lot of research into a very broad range of topics. These have included localism, the fire safety order, burial charges and land based oil extraction in Nottinghamshire. It is a great feeling when the work I have done forms the basis of the advice to the client.

As a trainee I have also had the opportunity to attend hearings and take a note. I have attended the Court of Appeal, York Crown Court and hearings at the GTCE. This is interesting work and is one of the few departments in the firm where the trainee is exposed to criminal trials.

I have also had the opportunity to take witness statements, organise my own files and observe client interviews and negotiations. I have been able to analyse a bill of costs and negotiate on it.

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

The level of responsibility/hands on experience varies depending on the client and the complexity of the work. I have been responsible for providing an advice for CCW and I am responsible for a number of General Teaching Council for England investigation files.

However I undertake more task based work when working on larger files, such as fatality prosecutions being bought by the HSE.

How much client contact does a trainee get?

There is a fairly significant amount of client contact. The amount of contact depends on the client. For example, I am in regular contact with the General Teaching Council for England and the teachers which we are representing.

However, I have only had brief contact with clients such as Natural England and CCW.

What has been the highlight for you in this seat?

The Highlight of this seat has been providing some advice from initial quotation to billing stage. It was great to personally complete an entire matter.