Interview: Melissa King, Public Law Trainee at Ashfords

We sat down with Melissa King, a Public Law trainee at Ashfords, to get her lowdown on what life was like at the firm and in her sector. 

  • Last updated Feb 11, 2018 9:04:40 AM
  • by Jack J Collins, Editor of AllAboutLaw.co.uk
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Image courtesy of Ashfords

What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office?

I check my emails and make a list of tasks for the day whilst drinking a large cup of tea!

Could you give us a quick breakdown of how you spend the average day in this seat?

In the Public Sector Department, I have worked for both public and private sector clients on a variety of matters. It is often the case that no two days are the same! We advise clients on a number of areas including governance and vires, grant funding, State aid, procurement, outsourcing, shared services projects and regeneration projects.

I regularly write reports to clients and recently I have written reports on: Asset Protections Agreements; Grant Agreements; A Corporate Vehicle Options Appraisal; Governance Reports; A Deed of Novation; Procurement Risk Reports; and Crown Commercial Service Framework Agreements.

A lot of my day is spent responding to queries we have received from.

How much do you correspond with senior colleagues and clients on a daily basis?

I work closely with both the Head of Department and Senior Partner, Elizabeth Gibson and Senior Associate, Lucy Woods. I contact clients on a daily basis and I have also attended a number of client meetings and conference calls.

What sort of responsibilities do you have as a trainee in public sector? Are you tackling hands-on project work or undertaking more general/advisory training or support work?

Since I began working in the department, I have worked on a number of large projects including a multi-million pound regeneration project. I have been given responsibility for a number of matters and I will often prepare correspondence and reports to clients.

However, I have the security of knowing that my work is checked before it is sent to clients, as it can be quite daunting as a trainee responding to clients on particularly complex matters.

On other matters, I support the lead fee earner which can involve research or proof reading. I am also responsible for ensuring that the department is kept up-to-date on the latest developments, preparing articles to be published on the firm's website and preparing submissions to legal directories such as Legal 500 and Chambers.

In just a few words, could you explain the sort of work you do in public sector?

The Public Sector department advise clients on governance and vires, grant funding, State aid, procurement, outsourcing, shared services projects and regeneration projects. I have also been involved with the preparation of tender submissions.

What kind of projects have you been working on so far? Do you tend to take on short-term tasks or working on long-term projects?

I have worked on both short-term and long-term projects. Some matters are concluded within a few days whilst others are still ongoing from before I started in the department in September 2016. The short-term projects I have worked on include drafting and amending Contracts and preparing a procurement risk report.

Long-term projects such as the large regeneration projects we are working is are likely to continue until late 2017.

Which area of public sector are you most interested in?

I have really enjoyed analysing and amending contracts and preparing procurement risk reports, as well as assisting in the preparation of complex reports to clients on very specific queries.

For example, I assisted in researching and preparing an extensive report on a Local Authority's responsibility for providing open access sexual health care services. I have also prepared a number of procurement risk reports advising clients on the risks associated with a direct award of contract.

How does this seat compare with others you have completed?

This is the first seat of my training contract and I will actually be completing my second seat in the department. At the present time, I cannot compare it to any other seats but I can say that I am thoroughly enjoying working in the department.

It is an incredibly diverse seat which focuses on a number of areas of law which can be quite challenging to get your head around to begin with, but it is a very rewarding seat.

Does your work put you in direct contact with clients?

Yes, I speak with clients on a daily basis and I have attended a number of client meetings and conference calls. I am the first point of contact on a variety of matters and so I liaise by phone/email with a number of our clients.

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