Interplay Between Legal Services: A Trainee’s Commentary

Published on 19 Apr 2023

A trainee solicitor at Lanyon Bowdler will typically do four placements or seats in different departments within the firm, each spanning six months. Having now worked in three departments within Lanyon Bowdler (Clinical Negligence, Court of Protection, and Private Client, the latter two as part of my training contract) I always find it exciting to discover areas of overlap or intersection where departments will need to ask for advice, work collaboratively, and perhaps hand over the reins to another legal team to provide a comprehensive service for our clients.

As a trainee in Court of Protection, I would speak with people whose loved ones had lost their mental capacity due to injury or illness and required assistance with decision making about their finances or their care. Some of those I spoke with were able to provide their loved ones with the assistance they needed by virtue of a Lasting Power of Attorney that had often been made many years in advance. The Court of Protection department were able to provide guidance and support to attorneys tasked with making those important decisions, or in some cases, professional attorneys within Lanyon Bowdler were appointed to perform this service.

Now, in Private Client, I meet with people who are in good health but want to plan for any future loss of capacity and by ensuring someone has the authority to protect their interests should they be unable to do so themselves. Those in this position often wish to instruct us to prepare those same Lasting Powers of Attorney that I saw come in clutch for our Court of Protection clients.

Within the Private Client Department, my current seat, I have already seen several couples contemplating marriage or civil partnership looking to prepare new wills. Couples taking the next steps in their lives may wish to consider making pre-nuptial or co-habitation agreements to ensure their assets are appropriately protected, particularly where contributions to large purchases such as marital homes have not been equally split between the partners. This is an area of work that our Family Department specialise in.

Additionally, for those marrying with young children, perhaps from previous relationships, it is advisable to consider who should be appointed as a guardian in your will should the worst happen. Our Family team can assist with preparing a Letter of Wishes concerning guardianship and can ensure the contents of this letter addresses all the likely questions the Family Courts will have in deciding who to assign parental responsibility to.

Instances of interplay between areas of legal advice I have seen in my training contract are too numerous to list exhaustively, but I mention below a few other key scenarios that could, and often do, arise:

  • Clinical Negligence and our Residential Property team collaborating to ensure a property can be purchased that is suitable, practical and safe for a client with a physical disability following a medical accident;
  • Our Corporate and Commercial Property teams arranging the sale of a company and any linked agricultural property whilst the Trusts team within Private Client create trusts to transfer remaining business assets into so the appropriate business tax reliefs can be utilised.
  • Our Dispute Resolution team advising on property disputes for vulnerable Court of Protection clients and how best to resolve those disputes amicably; and
  • Personal injury and Court of Protection Solicitors in frequent communication to discuss clients with brain injuries needs so that expenses incurred in supporting the client can be factored into and covered by any ongoing personal injury claim.

It is always fascinating to see how a legal matter develops in practice, and the more exposure I have to this, the more I can see how often client’s matters will fall into the remit of several different departments.

It is true that many cases are straight forward and are able to be dealt with by a single team within their area of expertise. However, where a legal matter is more complex, it is necessary to ensure no components are overlooked to potentially cause problems in future. Approaching a full service firm like Lanyon Bowdler means that we have regard for these complexities and can appropriately seek guidance and refer internally, obtaining any necessary legal advice without delay.

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