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Academy conversions - from start to finish

21 February 2013

One of my roles within the Construction team is to act as the ‘construction lead’ on a number of academy conversions. These conversions are a great way of getting experience with a variety of case-management techniques and important issues a solicitor would need to monitor.


In order to give the client certainty and value, most of our construction input is provided under a fixed fee arrangement with a defined scope. As a result, my role as the construction lead is to monitor the overall costs incurred by all members of the construction department. At times, when things are busy, this is challenging, and requires frequent monitoring and co-operation with the overall conversion lead.

If we are required to complete work outside of the fixed fee arrangement then I need to raise these in advance and get agreement from both the conversion lead and the client. This is a good insight into some of the elements required for a fee-earner who manages full cases and provides useful experience for the future.


As part of my role I need to keep a project plan up to date. This is all part of the inter-departmental co-operation process and makes sure the conversion lead knows where everyone is progress wise.


I also find myself negotiating with the local authority about construction provisions, warranties and indemnities contained within the commercial transfer agreement. As a trainee, my communications are supervised, but I am able to put forward and develop arguments to try and swing things in our client’s favour.

Commonly, as part of the academy conversion, our construction input will involve drafting and negotiating a Deed of Assignment or a Deed of Novation with contractors and professional consultants, which can be quite a challenge! Although if you get the result you want, it can be very satisfying.


A big part of my involvement in the academy conversion process is to draft appropriate clauses to address project specific issues for each conversion. Although we have a bank of precedents as a starting point, there is often the need to amend and free-draft clauses for the commercial transfer agreement with the involvement of the supervisor. Many academy conversion require other documents such as deeds of novation or assignment, which again require specific drafting.

Personally I have had the opportunity to free-draft indemnity clauses as well as advice and correspondence to the clients and correspondence to contractors.

Closing the matter

Once the conversion has been completed and the construction input is concluded you can have the satisfaction of knowing you have been involved in achieving the client’s objective.

Overall, these conversions are a really good experience, although occasionally tricky with frustrating negotiations, and I have found them very helpful in other areas of my work.