We are delighted to welcome a new intern to Regan Peggs Solicitors. Maria Nogueira joins us from Birmingham City University, where she is studying for a Masters in International Business Law. Over the coming months, she will be helping with the day-to-day running of the firm and gaining practical experience in a broad range of legal matters.
Throughout her time with us, Maria will be keeping an Intern’s Diary to chronicle her experiences of, and reflections on, working in a practice. In this instalment, Maria reflects on her initial two weeks as an intern, including her first experience at a UK court.
WEEK OF 11 JUNE 2018
I began my first day working at the office by familiarising myself with the firm’s client management system, Actionstep – learning to open files, add file notes, add documents in the correct folder, and so on.
Later that morning, Regan invited me to join a meeting with a client who had been accused by the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Service) of failing to perform her duties as an occupational therapist in the right way. Regan discussed with her the different offences and how he was going to defend the case, explaining to her the different pleas and claims. It was interesting to watch how the meeting was conducted and the way that the important matters were explained to the client.
In the afternoon I attended another meeting with a client, for whom Regan was providing help with a commercial lease agreement. For the rest of the day I did mainly administrative work, which helped me to see how everything is organised and how cases are prepared, ending the day with a trip to the bank as requested by Regan.
On Wednesday, in the morning Regan invited me to go to the Magistrates’ Court with him to watch a series of motoring cases being held. One of our clients was accused of speeding, and failing to give information about the driver.
When the client arrived we spoke to him and confirmed the information we already had. After that we spoke to the police prosecutor, who informed us that there was another insurance holder on the vehicle before the incident happened, and afterwards. We then attended the court hearing, where the client was not present, and Regan represented him and pleaded not guilty to all four offences. The experience at court was really nice since I had never been to one, at least in the UK.
In the afternoon I did some administrative work and I also started to handle some cases by responding to clients’ emails and getting some documents organised and correctly put into the files.
On Friday morning I went to the Crown Court to watch a hearing of a client who was accused of domestic violence. This hearing was definitely more exciting than the last one, since we had to go to the cells to speak with the client, and also it was a more interesting matter.
Because the client did not know how to speak English, we had to have an interpreter with us. During that conversation Regan explained what would happen if the client pleaded either guilty or not guilty. During the court hearing our client pleaded not-guilty and was granted bail until the next court hearing.
In the afternoon, Gemma gave me some tasks to do including calling Birmingham Magistrates’ Court and some police officers to get updates about our clients’ cases. I also learnt how to write a letter to a client and how to write a witness statement based on a letter. All of these tasks were very enriching as I had the chance to learn how to write in a professional way and to prepare official documents that will be used to solve our clients’ cases.
WEEK OF 18 JUNE 2018
On Monday morning we had a meeting with a client who had been convicted in a foreign country, following an incident involving his wife and children. Here the main concern was that the client is the owner of a security firm and could lose his licence by having a criminal record. He asked for our advice to secure his licence, at least until the appeal was decided.
Regan wanted me to help him with this case so that I could have the opportunity to work on a case from the beginning, meaning that I could prepare statements, arrange the necessary documents and try to find a way to help our client. Because we had to have everything ready by Friday, my whole week was focused on it.
On Monday I started by putting the client’s appeal statement into the correct format. I also exchanged some emails with him, requesting statements from his wife and children, and other important documents like his licence and the copy of the court hearing.
While I waited for my client’s response, I made some calls and sent some emails to follow up some of our clients’ cases. I also started to make some notes about a client’s case concerning a civil claim. My task was to organise a series of emails between our client and the other party, so that Regan could have all the important information in one single document.
On Wednesday morning I started by checking if my client had sent me the statements I was waiting for. As I had not received anything from him, I continued working on consolidating the emails from the client. Because the deadline of the other case was close, I decided to call the client and ask him to send the documents as soon as possible.
During the afternoon I received the statements one by one and spent the rest of the day putting them into shape and adding them into the file. I was also tasked with comparing what had been said in the court hearing and what the written law says, and had to figure out and explain which were the exact offences of which my client had been convicted.
On Friday I began by printing all the documents that we had to send in our defence letter relating to the case I was working on. The deadline was that day, so everything had to be dealt with preferably in the morning or mid-afternoon. After printing everything, I had to organise all the enclosures and make sure that they were all paginated correctly, so that no mistakes were made.
In the afternoon, I finalised the letter, scanned everything into the computer to have it in our files, and send it to the client. After completing this, I had to deal with some other cases, making some calls to courts and to the CPS to ask for some necessary information.
I really enjoyed this week because I had the opportunity to focus on one case and deal with all the related setbacks. I had a lot of responsibility and felt the pressure of handling a client’s case from the beginning, which taught me a lot.