Kate joined Leigh Day in September 2013 as a trainee in the clinical negligence department. Kate is currently in her second seat of training, assisting Alison Millar with claims on behalf of individuals who have suffered sexual and/or physical and/or emotional abuse as children.
"Aside from its brilliant reputation as a leading human rights firm, I was initially attracted to Leigh Day as a firm that acts exclusively for claimants, reaching out to some of society’s most vulnerable people both on a domestic and international level.
Working at Leigh Day has in every way fulfilled my expectations, not least because it is so clear that everyone here - from the most junior paralegal staff through to the partners and consultants – shares an absolute commitment to seeking justice for those who would otherwise be denied it. It is fair to say that the lawyers here really do go above and beyond for their clients, and when it comes to taking on some of the most challenging and risky cases, no questions are asked.
Being a trainee at Leigh Day has been both a challenging and extremely rewarding experience. From the outset, I feel I have been given the opportunity - and indeed encouraged - to play an active role in the litigation, from drafting documents and corresponding with clients, to attending conferences and hearings with counsel and researching novel legal arguments. I have always felt confident expressing my own opinions, and feel that my contributions have been respected and listened to.
One of the features of the Leigh Day Training Contract that is particularly unique, and in my opinion what makes it stand out over other firms, is the two seat structure, and the fact that during that year you work exclusively for one Partner. Unlike many other Training Contracts, where you may do four or even six seats, this really gives you the opportunity to engage with the issues, fully develop your understanding of the law and, perhaps most rewardingly, make a valuable contribution to every individual case. Furthermore, you are given fantastic exposure to some of the most well regarded lawyers in this country and, certainly from my experience, are able to develop a relationship with your clients and see their cases progress.
I have thoroughly enjoyed both of my seats and have found them equally challenging, both on an intellectual and a personal level.
For my first seat, I trained in the Clinical Negligence Department, assisting a Partner who advises on a large range of medical negligence cases, including birth injuries, orthopaedics, misdiagnosed cancers, and fatal cases and Inquests involving children and adults. The knowledge and experience that I gained during this seat was immeasurable, not least because I came to Leigh Day with no medical background and no prior paralegal experience in this area.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges of this area of work – and indeed this is something that I have also faced in my second seat – is the emotional element. You are dealing with people who have suffered great traumas, and are often in a heightened state of anxiety and distress when speaking with you. Learning how to manage this is something that I have been able to discuss with my supervisor as part of my training, and the extremely friendly and down to earth atmosphere at Leigh Day has also meant that I have never felt afraid to speak about this. It is true to say that this firm really does operate an ‘open-door’ policy.
Furthermore, whilst obtaining compensation for someone can never, of course, guarantee a resolution of all that person’s grievances, you can certainly feel confident that your contributions, no matter how big or small, have at least played a positive part in that person’s journey for justice.
I am currently completing my second seat of training in the Abuse Department, working on cases on behalf of individuals who have suffered physical, sexual, and emotional abuse in institutional settings. This includes claims for vulnerable and learning disabled adults who have been abused or neglected in care homes, hospitals and other residential facilities, and also claims on behalf of adults who have suffered abuse as children.
These cases raise many deeply complex issues, both on an individual level and on a much wider scale. Consequently, I have been encouraged to think outside the box, and to develop and express my own opinions on the legal and systemic issues extending beyond the individual cases in hand. Indeed, this is something that permeates throughout the whole of Leigh Day, where many of the departments are involved in campaigning, charity fundraising, and generally raising awareness of some of the most pressing legal issues facing today’s society.
At all times throughout my Training Contract I have felt honoured to be surrounded by such a passionate and talented team of lawyers and proud to be part of such a wonderful firm."