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With many graduates and paralegals working on their training contract applications, we thought it would help aspiring legal superstars of the future to know what life is like as a trainee solicitor at Debenhams Ottaway.

First up we spoke to Nazmin Chowdhury who joined Debenhams Ottaway in 2020 after working at a global law firm with expertise in litigation, dispute resolution and advisory services. Currently working in our corporate and commercial team, Nazmin talks about her experience as a trainee so far.


8.45am I arrive at the office, make myself a cup of hot chocolate (because I don’t drink tea or coffee) and start the day with some relatively healthy snacks (a bit contradictory, I know). I talk through the plan of action for the day ahead with my supervisor, James Brawn, partner in our  corporate and commercial team. I  check my diary and emails, highlighting any high priority matters, put them in my “to do” list and plan my day around those.

9.00am I start research on B-corporation requirements and their eligibility, following an email received from a corporate client who would like to know whether their private limited company will be eligible for this and if we are able to update their company’s Articles of Association accordingly. Using Debenhams Ottaway’s extensive research tools, I find all the information I need, update the relevant documents and send to James to look at.

10.00am We have a weekly team meeting on Microsoft Teams. Since the pandemic, we have adopted a hybrid working approach, with some colleagues working from home and some in the office on different days. So, having this catch up on a weekly basis is a great way to keep in touch with my colleagues wherever they are. We usually talk about any new enquiries, feedback received from clients and what we can do better to ensure efficiency across the team as well as the social stuff – plans for the weekend, holidays coming up and who is doing well in the Euros sweepstake.

10.30am I receive an email from a colleague in our family law team. She sends us documents relating to the various companies where a separating couple are acting as directors and/or shareholders and asks whether we would be able to advise the wife on company law related matters to ensure her position is protected after the divorce. I conduct some research and report back to my colleague. Debenhams Ottaway provides a wide range of legal services, so we are often work with colleagues in different teams for queries/advice (subject to conflict), which works well for our clients as it saves them from having to search for another law firm to work  with.

11.30am I call our client, who has instructed us to prepare an artist engagement contract for a festival they have organised for this Summer. The draft contract has been prepared, however, before we can  finalise this, I go through a few outstanding points with her.

12.00pm We have a monthly catch up with fellow trainees on Microsoft Teams. This is an informal chat about our lives and the work we are doing in the different teams we are based in. We share tips/advice on how to improve our training, the Professional Skills Course( PSC) and generally talk about our future plans. Being a trainee lawyer is a steep learning curve carrying a lot of responsibility but at the same time it is incredibly rewarding. Having others who are in the same boat makes the journey much easier as we are able to bounce off ideas.

1.00pm Lunch. Being a foodie, this is the part of the day I look forward to the most! St Albans has such great eating places, and the best thing is that they are just a walking distance from our office. A friend of mine works local to me so I meet her for lunch at Bill’s.

2.00pm After lunch, I update the artist engagement contract, following my call with the client earlier today and send to James for approval, before sending it out to the client.

3.00pm I receive an email from a senior lawyer to review a client’s gratuities and bribery policy and to advise of any ‘red flag’ points. I carefully review each document, making notes as I go along and marking any proposed changes to the policies for the client to consider. I send these to my colleague to review before reverting to the client.

5.15pm It is the end of the working day. Before I log off, I prepare a list of tasks to do for tomorrow, detailing those which remain outstanding together with their priorities. On rare occasions, I do end up staying a bit longer than expected if there are tight deadlines to comply with (which cannot be extended), however, at Debenhams Ottaway, we are always encouraged to have a good work/life balance. I look forward to what the next day will bring.

Interested in applying? Here is more information on how to apply for a trainee contract at Debenhams Ottaway or if you have any other questions please contact Alexandra Langley.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.