A day in the life of… a Dispute Resolution lawyer
Our Partner and Head of Dispute Resolution, Leanne Philp, is a highly experienced and skilled lawyer specialising in contentious probate, breach of contract claims and building disputes – not to mention a busy mum! In her years as a lawyer, she has found that many people struggle to understand what Dispute Resolution actually is and the work she does on a day-to-day basis.
In this blog, Leanne takes us through a day in the office, the kinds of cases she deals with and how she juggles her varied workload.
8:10am – First thing’s first – I shepherd the kids out of the house and bundle them in the car for the school run.
8:30am – Once the children are dropped off, it’s time to get to the office.
9:05am – At my desk and reviewing my diary for today. Because I always have several cases on the go at once, it’s so important to keep organised. I check for meetings, and any deadlines that I may have coming up, to ensure I’m progressing each client’s case as efficiently as possible.
9:15am – I take a telephone call from a client, who recently instructed me regarding a breach of contract claim. This is a common type of commercial dispute and occurs when one party feels that another has violated the agreed-upon terms of a binding legal contract.
After receiving my latest email, the client wants to go over a few things and instructs me to respond to the other party. I make an attendance note (of what we spoke about and the client’s instructions) and diarise the work to be done.
9:30am – I sit down for my first meeting with a new client who has instructed me on a contested probate matter (i.e., where there is a disagreement between beneficiaries about the contents of a Will – often between siblings relating to a parent’s Will). Once I leave the meeting, I arrange for terms of business to be sent and arrange for the payment of their fee.
10:45am – There are now three other matters requiring my attention, so I sit down and get to work on a large commercial breach of contract case, a debt claim and a boundary dispute. Boundary disputes occur when the owners of neighbouring properties disagree on the ownership of a piece of land. I spend the next hour or so making telephone calls to a client, instructing a barrister and drafting five letters.
12:00pm – Another client meeting to go over some documents that have recently been disclosed and to discuss the next steps to be taken.
1:00pm – I eat lunch at my desk while reading the papers for my afternoon’s meeting. I know I should take a proper break but sometimes there is just too much to do and not enough hours in the day!
1:30pm – I take another client call. They have received my email and are confirming instructions.
1:45pm – It’s time for another housekeeping check to make sure no clients are waiting to hear from me. It’s a common myth that lawyers never respond to emails – I’m always checking to make sure I’m on top of my clients’ cases and that I’ve emailed or telephoned when I said I would!
2:00pm – I have a meeting with another new client, who has instructed me regarding a dispute with a subcontractor.
3:00pm – I love how varied my job is and that I get to meet lots of new people, but client meetings inevitably mean I get behind on paperwork. I’m back at my desk writing up my notes from my 12pm and 2pm meetings, and arranging for terms of business to be sent to my second new client.
3:20pm – Next, it’s on to the post pile, which I go through from oldest to newest – it’s vital to keep up to date with all incoming correspondence. While so much is online these days, lawyers still have a lot of traditional mail to go through!
4:15pm – I take a call from a client who is looking for an update on a case and letting me know their schedule for the next few weeks in case I need to get in touch.
4:30pm – Still catching up with today’s paperwork – trying to get as much done as possible before I have to pick up the children.
5:05pm – Where has the day gone (again!)? I unplug my laptop, shout goodbye to my colleagues and get in the car to collect the kids before the childminder fines me for being late!