Rachel Strong, Solicitor
Rachel Strong read Biology at Imperial College London and, having undertaken a vacation placement with the firm, was subsequently offered and accepted a training contract starting in September 2009. Rachel undertook seats in Clinical Law, Employment, Real Estate, Commercial and Dispute Resolution. She qualified into the Dispute Resolution department in September 2011.
I had a number of requirements of what I wanted from a training contract. Particularly, I wanted a firm where I would get a high quality of varied training with a good work life balance. I have a science background, and therefore Capsticks, with its main focus on healthcare, was an appealing choice for me.
When it came to researching training contracts, I soon realised that Capsticks is the leading law firm in its area. Everything I read about the firm and the training it offered sounded positive.
I really enjoyed the two week vacation scheme and was delighted to be offered a training contract at the end of it.
Training at Capsticks
Trainees at Capsticks undertake six four months seats, which gives you the opportunity to work in every department of the firm and undertake a wide and varied range of both contentious and non-contentious work. The type of work and the responsibility you get varies between departments, but has always been interesting and challenging. From day one I was given my own matters and expected to manage my own files and this level of responsibility increased as I moved through my training contract.
Supervisors ensure that trainees are given a wide range of work and will always take time to fully explain the work to you and answer any questions that you may have. As a trainee, you feel very much a part of the team and I am proud of the fact that during my training contract Capsticks won the niche law firm of the year award.
Aside from the interesting work, Capsticks is also a very sociable firm. The firm organises a number of social events throughout the year and there are regular Friday night drinks in the local pubs. The trainees across both years get on very well and we organise regular trainee events, including a trainee Christmas fancy dress parade around the London office to raise money for charity.
I feel that Capsticks is a very good firm at which to work and I really enjoyed my training here.
Andrew Latham, Solicitor
Andrew Latham read History at York University, with a particular emphasis on the history of medicine. He graduated in 2008, and studied the GDL and LPC at the College of Law in York. Having attended a vacation scheme with the firm, Andrew was offered and accepted a training contract. He joined Capsticks in September 2010 and qualified into the Clinical Law department in September 2012.
Capsticks is a brilliant place to train, the people are great, and the work is incredibly stimulating and feels very worthwhile.
I had a background in the history of medicine, and I wanted a career that related to some of the issues I had studied. I also knew I wanted a career in law, and Capsticks was a great way to combine the two. Capsticks does very real world law. At one end of the spectrum, some of the cases that the firm deals with can impact on how potentially thousands or millions of people receive and experience healthcare, which is a central aspect of life in the UK. At the other, the firm advises on matters which really have to balance individual needs with the population at large.
I applied to Capsticks too because I'd heard that it had a good attitude to training that trainees were given real responsibility and on proper cases. There's nomade up work, and you aren't chained to a photocopier or kettle.
I also didn't want to work for a stuffy City firm with an hours culture, or archaic ways of doing things. Feeling respected and having a good work-life balance is something that I really value. I'd heard Capsticks was friendly, and being out of the centre of London helps with having a good quality of life.
Since joining, I've come across so many more reasons to apply. Training here has really brought home how cutting edge a lot of the work is. It's a really exciting time to be doing healthcare law the Government plans to really change how the NHS works, and the non-litigation teams in particular are working on cases which are right at the forefront of this. The breadth of work that the firm does also really comes across, much more so than the department names suggest Capsticks works on everything from advising on whether water should be fluoridated, to responding to potential charges of corporate manslaughter, to drafting confidentiality agreements and setting up companies.
Training at Capsticks
Training here has completely surpassed my expectations. Right from the first day, you're working in a department, with training sessions spread across the first month or so of the first seat. This means you get a good balance between starting work, and not being overburdened with either too much law or training.
My first seat was in Commercial. I think this possibly has a reputation for being the most daunting seat at the firm, particularly if it's your first but in fact it's very friendly, and a really good way to learn more about the health sector. Probably the most difficult thing about it is getting to grips with how the Health Service works there are different ways of contracting compared to the private sector, and special procurement rules that affect how services are purchased. These aren't really covered on the LPC, so you have to think on your feet a bit! But you gain a great deal of knowledge which will really help on qualification, and everyone is really good at explaining things in an accessible way.
The breadth of work the department deals with is massive, and as a trainee you get to try a bit of everything probably more so than you would in more specialised departments at larger City firms. I got to look at PFI contracts, drafted contracts for provision of education services, helped a new NHS provider set up a company, and worked on advice to NHS Trusts on the transfers of services worth many millions of pounds. I also got to see a different side to being a lawyer beyond providing advice working on business development projects for Capsticks, carrying out file reviews, and setting up files for new clients. You get helpful feedback on all the work you do, and I always felt supported, even when doing difficult work.
I spent my second seat in the Property Litigation team, which is part of the Dispute Resolution department. This includes advising on disputes about boundaries between properties, ending leases, and what happens if the landlord (or tenant) isn't doing what they have agreed to do. I also worked on professional regulatory cases, primary care contracts (how GPs and dentists provide services and get paid) and some more general litigation. This is a really practical seat I spent a good deal of time speaking to witnesses and writing statements with them, attending hearings and preparing regulatory cases, some of which I ran myself. But I also got to do research, write letters of advice, and generally help clients manage their estates. I think my skills as a lawyer are really developing, and I'm getting to work on some fascinating cases at the same time.
My hours at Capsticks are very manageable. I row competitively, and have time to balance my job and sport, and have a social life too. The firm's social scene is quite laid back. There are organised monthly after work drinks, weekly football sessions, and the chance to do pro-bono work. The trainees are a really close-knit group we'll often have lunch together, or go out for drinks after work. Wimbledon's about a 15 minute train ride into the middle of London, and I have a ten minute cycle to work in the morning, which is perfect. The new office has good facilities for chilling out at lunch, and lots of people go running around the parks nearby.