Sophie Parris started her training contract with the firm in October 2019 having worked as a paralegal at Stewarts for three years. Her first seat as a trainee was in Knowledge Management (KM) and Compliance, and here she gives an overview of what she has learnt so far.
The opportunity to train in KM & Compliance is a recent concept for trainees and Stewarts was one of the first firms to offer such a seat in 2018. The KM & Compliance team perform numerous important functions within the firm, including encouraging knowledge sharing, designing innovative litigation funding solutions for clients and ensuring that the firm fulfils its statutory and regulatory obligations. As a paralegal, I had called upon our KM team a number of times but did not know what to expect as a trainee in a department.
Over the past five months, I have completed a variety of work and thoroughly enjoyed my time in KM. It has provided an opportunity to work with, and assist departments across the firm, including the commercial, injury, divorce and family, and media disputes teams. I have undertaken tasks such as analysing After-the-Event insurance policies, liaising with third party funders and drafting guidance documents for the firm’s knowledge bank. I have also managed a large project relating to litigation funding on behalf of our injury departments following insurer insolvency.
An essential part of working in KM is answering colleagues’ knowledge or compliance-based queries and I have particularly enjoyed the opportunity to problem-solve. For example, one of my first tasks on arrival into the seat was to research whether a deed had been adequately drafted so that it was legally binding. More recently, I advised a colleague with regards to the retainer in an injury claim when a client’s litigation friend sadly passed away. I have also considered issues around funding and bankruptcy. I have found it rewarding to dissect a problem, research the options and present a practical solution to my colleagues, enabling them to progress their client’s case. As a result, I am now more confident in my decision making, which is a vital skill for any solicitor.
During my seat, I have also had the opportunity to meet with a number of fee earners in the injury departments to discuss the progress and outcome of their cases. It has been interesting to listen to the different approaches taken by solicitors and the strategies they use to deal with issues that might arise. Aside from capturing knowledge that might be of use to the wider department, attending these sessions has also taught me valuable lessons for my own legal career, particularly in relation to consistently delivering good results for our clients.
Another task I have also contributed to is a large-scale review of the alternative funding agreements offered to our commercial disputes clients. With no previous commercial experience, I have found this project challenging. However, by reviewing each of these lengthy agreements in detail and researching the technical terms, I have been able to develop my own knowledge of commercial litigation funding. The ability to understand complex funding agreements is now a crucial skill for any commercial litigator and I am grateful that my seat in KM has afforded me the opportunity to explore this area in more detail, preparing me for seats in commercial disputes departments later in my training contract.
On reflection, my time in KM has provided me with a different perspective of Stewarts. I have a new appreciation for the many different operations that are required to improve the service we offer our clients and, as a result, contribute to the overall success of the firm. On a more personal level, I have been able to broaden my skills beyond those traditionally required of a trainee solicitor by working across both litigation and business services departments and managing a project-based workload. I am confident that my experience in KM, and all that it has taught me, will be invaluable as I progress through my training contract and into my career.
At Stewarts, we aim to recruit and retain the best people at all levels of the firm. The ability, dedication and technical excellence of our people are critical to the successes we achieve for our clients.
We’ve highlighted some of the careers of our people, outlining the diverse paths they have taken to get where they are today, in some career stories. You can view them here.
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