For lots of qualified lawyers, the journey starts with being a trainee and, at KN, we understand that the experience and training someone receives whilst completing their training contract has an impact on the area of law that they qualify into, and ultimately the type of lawyer they will become.
What it’s like to be a trainee at Kingsley Napley
As a trainee at KN you’ll be working with a number of different but all highly experienced, exceptional lawyers in each practice area, on a variety of matters. We like our trainees to progress quickly, so once they’ve learnt the ropes they are given more responsibility and offered the chance to meet clients, be responsible for their own work, and to take part in marketing and client development activities.
Our trainees are given all the training they need whilst training with us, including professional skills courses in each seat, on-the-job experience, seminars that we hold at the firm, and regular know-how meetings. We also allocate trainees a training budget per seat, so that they can attend any additional training sessions that the trainees or their supervisors think may be necessary. In addition to a training budget, our trainees are also given a marketing and social budget, which get well used on an almost monthly basis!
Our trainees are allocated a supervisor in each seat who monitor the type and amount of work the trainee is being given, as well as acting as a mentor during the seat. Trainees have monthly catch-ups with their supervisors, and meet with the Training Principal at least once a seat. Trainees also have a designated HR contact (Vicki Tavener), with whom they can discuss any aspects of their training with.
Our trainees will follow the SQE pathway from 2023.
During a training contract at KN, trainees complete four six month seats, providing them with both contentious and non-contentious experience in a broad range of practice areas.
Seats are allocated before the trainees start their training contracts, and are based on their seat preferences, the needs of the Practice Areas and where the second year trainees will be sitting. We try our best to ensure that all trainees get at least three of their top choices each year, but this may not always be possible.
Practice Area Summaries
For an idea off what you could expect in each seat, please see a summary below for each of our practice areas.
The Clinical Negligence team is mostly claimant-focused, which means that the work is varied and can be highly contentious. The work a trainee can expect to be doing will include; drafting court documents, instructions to Counsel, witness statements and schedules of loss. Trainees will also be asked to undertake legal research on a number of issues, including liability and quantum research, and undertake analysis of expert reports.
The team has expertise across a range of areas, from complex spinal and brain injury to cerebral palsy and other birth injury claims, and has expanded its expertise in personal injury work. The clients are primarily individuals, acting either on behalf of themselves or as Litigation Friends for children or persons lacking capacity. Some cases can be quite emotionally challenging, and it is certainly not an area for the faint of heart.
A seat in Clinical Negligence gives trainees a solid understanding of the basics to the litigation process, and can improve drafting skills. During this seat, trainees are likely to be taken to a number of client meetings, conferences with Counsel, round table settlement meetings and even the occasional trial.
Trainees are given responsibility from day one and are expected to be able to manage and progress the matters on which they are assisting across all aspects of the team's work, and can expect daily contact with clients, experts and Counsel. They will also gain a good basic understanding of different medical conditions and terminology as they progress through the seat.
Despite being one of the biggest at the firm, trainees can expect to work one-on-one with most fee earners at some point during their seat. Clinical Negligence also works closely with Private Client in respect of deputyship and court of protection work, and also with the Costs team.
- Trainee Supervisor: Suzanne Farg, Legal Counsel
Corporate & Commercial
In the Corporate and Commercial team trainees work on a variety of matters, including advising on banking and finance transactions, company incorporations, corporate governance issues, corporate transactions and partnership issues.
The practice area's clients are largely entrepreneurs and start-up ventures but also include owner managed and family businesses, investors, funds and AIM or smaller quoted companies. The department receives repeat client work and referrals from other departments such as Employment, and in particular, Real Estate.
Trainees can expect to attend client meetings, carry out company searches and other legal research, draft corporate governance documents including minutes and board resolutions, deal with Companies House filings and assist on the department's large transactions.
Trainees will improve their legal document drafting and researching skills during a seat in Corporate and Commercial, as well as their proficiency in reading long commercial/corporate documentation (a transferable skill that trainees can apply to all commercial work undertaken).
Corporate and Commercial is one of the smaller teams at KN, and as a result trainees can expect increasing levels of contact with clients throughout their seat. The practice area is growing, and trainees often work one-on-one with all fee-earners in the team.
- Trainee Supervisor: Andrew Solomon, Senior Associate
In the Criminal team, trainees work on a mix of financial and business crime, as well as general crime matters.
No case is ever the same as trainees will be exposed to a wide variety of work. Trainees often assist fee-earners with attending first meetings, drafting statements, clerking cases and analysing complex financial documents.
The team is open to trainees getting involved in most matters and the trainee supervisor will often ensure that trainees get involved in work that they enjoy.
Whilst there is not as much client contact as in other seats, the work the trainee will be doing is high-end and they will be working on, and contributing to, very high profile cases.
Trainees will often work as part of a team with partners, fee-earners and paralegals in larger cases and one to one with a fee-earner on smaller general crime matters.
The criminal team is one of the biggest in the firm and while the trainee may not necessarily work with everyone in the department, the team is very friendly and they value the role of the trainees.
- Trainee Supervisor: Nick Dent, Senior Associate
- Trainee Supervisor: Sophie Wood, Senior Associate (Barrister)
The Dispute Resolution team works on exciting high profile matters which often involve a cross-border element. This includes property litigation, fraud, contentious probate and trusts, general litigation, professional negligence, search and freezing orders, media and reputation management. Clients are individuals, companies and trustees. The work can be very fast paced, requiring trainees to work to tight deadlines and under pressure.
The work is highly varied. These are just some of the tasks a trainee may find themselves working on:
- Drafting and preparing court applications, witness statements and bundles;
- Attending client meetings and mediations;
- Regular client contact and contact with the opponent;
- Interaction with Counsel;
- Attendance at court to lodge applications and to attend hearings;
- Reviewing complex documents;
- Reviewing the Civil Procedure Rules;
- Drafting letters of claim, instructions to experts and to counsel.
Trainees answer new client enquiries from members of the public, which can be daunting at first, but trainees soon get used to it and are able to judge whether a case is suitable for the team to take on.
The team is very friendly, with Partners and fee-earners always on hand to advise and provide assistance when needed.
Dispute Resolution is an excellent seat in which trainees are exposed to a wide-range of tasks and work which will promote new skills and hone existing ones.
- Trainee Supervisor: Richard Clayman, Senior Associate
- Trainee Supervisor: Laura Phillips, Senior Associate
In the Employment team trainees work on a mixture of contentious and non-contentious matters, which means that the work is varied and interesting.
The practice area's clients are a mix of senior employees and employers; there is a large amount of repeat client work and referrals from other departments including Corporate and Commercial and Regulatory.
The variety of work includes; advising on discrimination at work, grievance and disciplinary hearings, team moves, restrictive covenants, redundancy, settlement agreements, whistleblowing, bonus disputes, bullying and harassment at work and outsourcing. Trainees can expect increasing levels of contact with clients throughout their seat, as well as improving their legal document drafting and research skills.
During a seat in Employment, trainees create bundles for Counsel and Employment Tribunals, draft contracts of employment, carry out research on a large variety of topics, draft letters of advice and letters to the other side on contentious matters.
The team is a growing one, and trainees work one-on-one with all fee-earners and Partners.
- Trainee Supervisor: Kirsty Churm, Senior Associate
While undertaking a seat in Family, trainees will have the opportunity to work on a range of private law family matters including divorce, financial remedies, private law children (including relocation) and prenuptial agreements.
Trainees will have client contact from the outset and will be drafting inter partes correspondence, briefs to counsel, divorce petitions, Forms E and consent orders from early on in their seat. Family is a busy litigation seat and trainees will be directly involved in cases from day one, including attending client meetings, conferences with counsel and attending mediations, round table negotiations and court hearings.
The team itself is medium-sized, and trainees are encouraged to work with all fee-earners and Partners at some point during their six month seat.
There is some overlap in the work the team does with Private Client, Dispute Resolution, Crime and Immigration. The Family team also works closely with the Immigration team on Surrogacy cases.
- Trainee Supervisor: Lauren Evans, Senior Associate
The immigration practice area is divided into three teams: the private client team and two corporate teams. Trainees spend half of the seat in the private client team and the other half in one of the corporate teams.
Private client immigration work is centred on personal immigration matters. KN's private clients are mostly high-net worth and/or highly skilled individuals (and their families). KN helps private clients obtain leave to remain or settlement in the UK. KN also assists clients with obtaining British nationality. Clients may seek advice on other immigration matters, for example, obtaining nationalities of other countries (e.g. Malta).
Corporate immigration work involves assisting corporates on bringing their non-EEA national employees into the UK to work. KN's corporate clients are varied, but consist for the most part of large multi-national firms, including law firms, architect practices and media organisations.
The immigration practice area team is large and trainees will work with all members of the team, from Partners to legal assistants and paralegals.
The immigration practice area team work closely with the Private Client department and Employment department. KN's immigration private clients, for instance, may also seek tax advice from the Private Client team.
Immigration work tends to be fast-moving, and matters can be concluded within a few days of instructions being received. It is therefore important to be able to work quickly and manage time efficiently.
- Trainee Supervisor: Katie Newbury, Partner
In the Private Client team, trainees will gain experience in areas such as taxation, probate, deputyship, wills, trusts and lasting powers of attorney.
The types of clients vary from super high net worth individuals, to vulnerable people for whom KN has been appointed to act as deputy.
In broad terms, trainees begin by preparing simple wills, memoranda of tax advice, lasting power of attorney and deputyship applications and move on to more difficult tasks such as preparing complicated estate accounts in the seat. Issues with mental capacity arise frequently and trainees are required to arrange capacity assessments where necessary.
Trainees can expect daily contact with clients by phone and to regularly attend meetings with other fee earners. Each day is different, and can include attending hearings or mediations, or dealing with the auction of items forming part of an estate.
The team is small, so trainees will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with all fee-earners. There is a large amount of cross-over work with other departments, including Real Estate and Dispute Resolution and opportunities to work with fee-earners in other departments.
Trainee Supervisor: Jim Sawer, Partner
Trainees sitting in our public law team will be involved in a diverse range of cases falling within four broad categories.. Most trainees will gain court experience working on judicial review claims before the Administrative Court. You will also typically have the chance to work on at least one inquest and one public inquiry. Finally, we provide support and advice to clients on information law (covering data protection and freedom of information), including when matters get contentious. You may also be able to get involved in a cross-departmental matter, such as a criminal or regulatory investigation resourced with a mixed team from multiple practice areas.
In the course of your seat, you will generally be involved in strategy discussions and meetings within the team and with clients and barristers. You will hone your drafting skills by preparing court documents and working on witness statements. Hopefully there will be a chance to prepare for and attend at least one hearing. There will also be opportunities to hone your legal research and factual analysis by drafting memos that review the law and interpret relevant documents.
One of the particular attractions of public law is the diverse range of clients and sectors with needs in this area. We act for both public sector organisations and private clients. You might find yourself working with clients from a wide range of sectors such as politics, police work or financial services. Our most recent caseload has included religious organisations, companies, trade bodies and political groups. Equally, your client might be a regulator or a branch of government. Every case is different.
During your six months with us, we aim to ensure that you get a good grounding in the principles and procedures relevant to the cases on which you work, and a chance to work with everyone in our small and specialist group. You will be expected to take responsibility for particular projects or areas of case work, but you will also get to be in the room and see how the big picture decisions are made in high-profile cases.
Trainee supervisor: Nick Wrightson, Senior Associate
In the Real Estate team, trainees work on a mix of residential and commercial property transactions. The team has expanded its expertise in construction law and trainees can potentially expect experience in projects and developments.
The work is varied and highly commercial. Trainees begin advising on residential sales and purchases, and can expect to assist on more complex commercial transactions by mid-seat.
The clients are a mix of private individuals and companies, and there is a large amount of repeat client work and referrals from other departments. The Corporate and Commercial team work closely with the Real Estate team and trainees can work on the property elements of company share sales, while CoCo handles the financing and corporate documentation.
The variety of work includes advising on property developments from planning and construction phases, acting for the buyer in a multi-million pound commercial purchase and negotiating with banks on property re-financings.
Trainees draft deeds, contracts and agreements for sale, leases, licences, and can expect to have daily contact with clients. A seat in Real Estate will improve legal document drafting and reading skills.
The team is small and so trainees work one-on-one with all fee-earners and Partners. There is a large amount of cross-over work with other departments, including Private Client and Dispute Resolution and opportunities to work with fee-earners in other departments
- Trainee Supervisor: Vanessa Rhodes, Senior Associate
Regulatory and Professional Discipline
The largest client in the Regulatory Department is the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the vast majority of work the trainee will do will be to assist on HCPC investigations.
Trainees will be assigned HCPC cases together with a supervising solicitor and will be expected to manage and progress a caseload of around 20 HCPC cases with the support of the supervising solicitor. Trainees are required to investigate the case by obtaining documents and interviewing witnesses. The trainee will then assess the allegations against the evidence and prepare a bundle for the final hearing. It is an excellent seat for developing drafting and case management skills.
There is also a growing defence practice within the team and we advise Doctors, Nurses and Therapists among other professions. Trainees should actively seek out defence work if that is something they are interested in.
Opportunities for advocacy occasionally also may arise, and trainees can take part in training sessions for the HCPC and other regulators. There is also scope for working with the Public Law team on some cross-over issues.
- Trainee Supervisor: Shannett Thompson, Partner