The perception of many law firms being tense, impersonal, and altogether quite intimidating environments is common, with ruthless lawyers who seem to be more machine than man running around. This was the complete opposite to my experience at Olliers. Every single member of staff I had the pleasure of meeting was nothing but welcoming, approachable and helpful. My week was filled with invaluable experience and exciting opportunities, and in my view it would be a great place to work.
My week started with the office manager showing me the basics, familiarising me with their database and computer system. This proved very useful throughout the week. Immediately I was given some cases to read. As an aspiring solicitor, looking at cases this way rather than just reading about them in the news is very beneficial. Being able to access all the court documents and witness statements, as well as previous convictions, enables you to get a much better feel for the case and a deeper understanding of the circumstances.
One case I read involved an assault on an emergency worker, but in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, as that offence had been extended to coughing on an emergency worker after declaring they had Covid. It was interesting to read about more current offences as the law is ever-changing. There were some heavy cases, not for the faint hearted, that gave me a taste of what was to come in my legal career. Whilst reviewing one case, I completed a summary of evidence which involved navigating through 90 pages of witness statements and summarising them, identifying certain things within them. This gave me a realistic idea of the amount of time and work that goes into dealing with a case.
The Magistrates’ Court
Something I particularly enjoyed was attending Magistrates’ Court with the David Philpott. He ensured I was present for the meetings in which he consulted with clients, any behind the scenes preparation he did, and of course court proceedings. Throughout all of this he explained what he was doing and why, answering any questions I had, and making me feel included rather than on the periphery.
Although anyone can visit court and observe a case, being exposed to the matters before and after the court appearance and having detailed knowledge of the case at hand was most fascinating. An outcome of proceedings that was especially interesting was the District Judge ordering an alcohol tag, which monitor sweat and detect whether alcohol has been consumed. These only came into force last year, and it was the first time the solicitor I was with had experienced one being used.
Attending the police station
Another highlight of the week was attending the police station with Helen Buxton. Again, Helen made me feel comfortable and welcome, taking the time to explain exactly what her role entailed and what her typical week looks like. Having just completed my LPC, I had not yet experienced a police station setting, so Helen told me what to expect, and I found the morning very engaging and informative. The client had been arrested for robbery, and after taking initial instructions Helen advised him to answer no comment in interview, explaining to both me and him why this was the most appropriate option. Being present for a police interview was very exciting, as this was an element of the work that particularly intrigued me.
Staff spoke highly of Managing Director, Matthew Claughton praising his approach to running the firm, particularly during the pandemic. I witnessed this first hand, and can’t say enough good things about my internship at Olliers.
Written by Isobel Phillipson
Isobel spent a week with Olliers during week commencing 12th July 2021 as part of our Summer 2021 Criminal Law Internship scheme.