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Continuing the Charitable Legacy

For the third year running we have been working with the University of Leeds to provide law students with eight-week work placements, following them winning the prestigious Pamela Walsh Peaker Memorial Scholarship.

The Pamela Walsh Peaker Memorial Scholarship is funded by Mr Tony Peaker and is dedicated to honour the memory of his late wife, from Halifax, who was a partner of L Bingham and Co Solicitors in London.

This year the scholarship winning student that we took on was Chloe Payne who comes from a Sheffield family of 3 children. Here’s how Chloe found life at SCE Solicitors 

1. What was the most memorable experience at SCE Solicitors?

The most memorable experience I had at SCE Solicitors was when I was involved in a preliminary hearing at an Employment Tribunal where it was to be decided whether the case should go to a full substantive hearing or should be struck out. I got to grips with the details of the case beforehand and whilst at the preliminary hearing, I effectively observed and took notes as well as liaised with both Samira and the client. This case made me aware of the challenges claimants face in discrimination cases, especially in relation to time limits. 

2. What was the most valuable experience?  

The most valuable experience I had whilst doing my work placement at SCE Solicitors was working on a lengthy and challenging race discrimination case. I was actively involved in the preparation for the substantive hearing which involved preparing copies of the bundles for the client, putting together a chronology of events and compiling the witness statements, a key piece of evidence in the hearing. In order to prepare the witness statements, I took part in client interviews and was even given the opportunity to speak with the client individually, giving me a real sense of responsibility. I found this particular case to be the most valuable to me as it helped me to get to grips with the many complications that come with discrimination cases and how difficult it can be for individuals to make these sorts of claim. It also really opened my eyes to the various clients that can walk through the door of an employment law firm. It gave me a real feeling of satisfaction knowing that I was helping someone to access justice especially given the difficult circumstances clients, who are in the middle of employment disputes, are facing. 

3. What stood out about your vacation placement?

What really stood out about the placement at SCE was the amount of responsibility I was given. Samira is not afraid to let you give something a go, which not only gives you the invaluable opportunity to get stuck in to real legal work but also instils confidence in you. I was able to give various activities a go including: drafting particulars of claim, researching into different legal problems which arose, reviewing submitted evidence, submitting a claim at an Employment Tribunal, creating draft witness statements, putting together chronologies, attending and assisting at a preliminary hearing at an Employment Tribunal, note-taking at client interviews and even conducting part of the client interview myself, and, finally, putting together documents and bundles for Counsel.  I believe that being given this high level of responsibility gives you that heightened level of experience that is necessary in order to progress in law. 

4. Would you recommend doing a vacation placement at SCE Solicitors?

I would highly recommend taking part in a vacation placement at SCE Solicitors. The placement gives you an all-round experience. You are able to get involved in high levels of claimant work, giving you a real taster of controversial issues such as access to justice. You also get a taster of the more commercial side and you can get involved in the marketing aspect, knowledge of which is becoming more and more essential in small private firms. 

5. What piece of advice would you give to any wannabe interns?

It might be more appealing to apply for the bigger and more well-established law firms in order to take part in a work placement. I can admit that I have been there and done that. However, the experience I have gained from SCE Solicitors, a smaller niche employment law firm, has been extremely invaluable and I believe I have had more support, encouragement and responsibility than I have ever gained anywhere else. My advice to wannabe interns would be not to underestimate smaller firms such as SCE Solicitors. SCE is where real, authentic experience in the legal field can be gained. Another piece of advice I would give would be to put your all into the tasks and activities set. In order to get experience, you have to really push yourself and, well, impressing the principal of the law firm is not a bad thing!

Chloe was a very competent young lady, who was diligent, thorough and a very quick to pick up the practical elements of employment law. She became an invaluable member of the team during her placement.