"The major attraction for me of Leigh Day was the company's claimant-only approach and excellence in work both in domestic public law and human rights and the international tort cases it takes on.
For me, a huge part of the draw was the opportunity to reach out and help those who truly have no chance otherwise to seek justice, my training contract has been both a challenging and richly rewarding time in my life.
Leigh Day is a very, very down to earth firm: partners are, in my experience, without exception approachable, welcoming and interested in you; the working atmosphere is probably best characterised as "committed, professional yet relatively informal"; and there is a wonderful camaraderie amongst the entire staff of the firm in knowing they are pulling in the direction of those who need their varied expertise and efforts most.
I have felt welcome and challenged from the outset, have enjoyed the working atmosphere I have described and the friendship of those around me. I have always been treated with great respect, encouraged to contribute in professional contexts and felt provided with all the support necessary to develop.
It is normal at Leigh Day only to do two seats. Indeed, in some instances, this has been reduced to one if a person has shown a particular aptitude/passion and has a particular skill-set to which they are suited (for example, former doctors who have joined the clinical negligence team). I have found that I have been far more able to engage with all the issues in cases on which I have worked the longest, which makes you far more useful to your supervisors than you might be whilst grappling with a new set of cases and areas of law every six months. Another advantage of having only two seats is that you really grow to feel part of the team and the department over the course of a full year in a way that is just not possible within six months only as you find your feet and get to know people - the experience of working for so long and immersed in the different environments within the firm is great.
I have really enjoyed my two seats. They have both been incredibly different experiences, both presented different intellectual, practical and personal challenges.
During my first seat, in international/group claims, I was working on large, international multi-party actions which are slow moving and take painstaking efforts to investigate fully and to reach a point at which it becomes clear whether or not a claim is viable. During the entire year, ostensibly only a very little progress was made in terms of legal steps. However, the political elements behind such cases dictates that media support and so forth is key and it was essential to try to get public support for such cases moving prior to taking open, legal steps. I also had the opportunity, during this seat, to travel abroad to meet vulnerable clients and to spend many days taking very detailed statements and handling complex emotionally and psychologically challenging cases.
My second seat, in the human rights department working on a wide range of cases has been no less rewarding. For the first six months of this seat, I carried out mainly clinical negligence work. These cases have tended to involve only single claimants and so have allowed for a far greater understanding of essential elements in being involved in a case such as the minutiae upon which such cases can turn, the importance of funding and of managing client relationships with domestic clients who are able more readily to contact you. For the last three months, I have been taking on a lot more public law work (judicial reviews, best interests, inquests), allowing me to explore the faster paced and politically charged nature of many such cases.
I have felt, from a very early stage, that I have been given meaningful tasks and trusted to get on with my work. Of course, everything you do will be checked by a supervisor before it goes out but I have never felt that this has meant that responsibility has been diminished."