Hands-on experience Samantha enjoyed her training contract and found the experience at a smaller firm “really hands-on. “During my seat in the insurance litigation team, for example, I had my own caseload of 30 to 40 files that ran from beginning to end – this gave me insight into the realities of the job”. Partially due to her experience as a trainee, Samantha established an expertise in insurance and when she made the transition to qualify at Gowlings, she did so into the professional indemnity team where she conducted “professional negligence work, often for the insurers, as well as looking at policy coverage issues”, which she has since continued to build on. To dispute or not dispute As Samantha qualified and her work evolved, Gowling itself grew “and became more international. I am doing much larger, more complicated disputes for a broader range of clients, including international clients, which is both interesting and higher value”, she explains. Now her role involves helping clients “wherever possible to avoid a dispute, but in the event that a dispute arises, we help them to resolve it as quickly and cost effectively as possible”. Meanwhile, her day-to-day work “can be anything from receiving a large contract from a commercial colleague and looking through the dispute resolution clause or liability provisions to see whether it works from a litigation perspective in the event that the parties end up in a dispute; to a client asking us to review a contract to identify who is in the right and what arguments should be deployed; or a client instructing us to sue another party – in which case, we will take it right from day one to trial if necessary”.
Commercial lawyers help businesses trade and work on a wide range of commercial agreements dealing with the manufacture, sale, supply and distribution of goods and services, as well as identifying and establishing the best routes to market, which could be via an agency, distribution or franchise model. Recently, there has been increased focus on ecommerce, online sales and software agreements. The work involves advising clients on the best trade arrangements, drafting, negotiating and signing off contracts, assisting with the day-to-day running of commercial business and advising on new products. Commercial law is often a key component in other projects and touches many areas of law, making it a highly varied legal arena. Before starting her training contract, Samantha Holland was not set on becoming a litigator, which she put down partly to a lack of confidence. However, her training contract at Cartwrights confirmed otherwise: “Litigation made sense to me. I like the fact that there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer.” Now a commercial litigation partner at Gowling WLG, Samantha looks back on her interesting route into the legal profession, which began when she was 17. A year ahead in her studies, she went to the University of Bristol to study law before completing her LPC at the College of Law, Chester. Without a training contract following her LPC, she “ended up working on a public enquiry with the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal as an assistant to the solicitor of the tribunal”. She secured a training contract in 1998, three years after finishing her LPC, at medium- sized firm Cartwrights in Bristol. Samantha then explored alternative opportunities before qualifying as a solicitor with Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, now Gowling WLG.
Understanding the commercial issues surrounding the client and its business is
For more firms that work in this practice area, please use the “Training contract regional indexes” starting on p197.
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