Duncan Lewis

Training a new generation of Lawyers

authorised by The Law Society to recruit

68 Trainee Solicitors

Trainees Feedback

Date: (1 September 2010)    |    

Total Comments: (16)    |    Add Comments

T. We welcome comments from both previous and current Trainee Solicitors. It might take about an hour for your comments to appear in this section as all your posts will be reviewed by Site Administrator before they appear on the forum to protect any abuse and filter irrelevant posts.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Anthony Carey on 28 April 2010 at 15:25

A Day in the Life of a Welfare Benefit Trainee Solicitor at Duncan Lewis.

My day starts as any other answering emails and phone messages, before preparing a set of Submissions for a difficult Tribunal matter at which I will be providing the Advocacy on behalf of the client.

I then see 2 clients, one for benefit fraud - which involves my attending an interview under caution [PACE 1984] with the client at a Jobcentre later this week.

This will be difficult as the client is very emotional and distressed and it is difficult to explain to her the seriousness of her predicament including the potential for this matter going to Court.

It is therefore in her best interests to tell me everything so that I can use my skill as an orator to try to have the matter dealt with in a different way by the fraud investigator[s].

The second client is here for a Housing Benefit appeal as the Local Authority believes that the client’s tenancy has been contrived to take advantage of the benefits system.

This is going to be a complex matter that will require a Tribunal hearing and lots of evidence to be provided by the client if we are to have a fighting chance.

I finish my Submissions and head for home nearly on time, knowing that tomorrow will never be the same as today.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Shayela Khan on 29 April 2010 at 15:27

I was offered a training contract by Duncan Lewis in August 2009 and I hit the ground running from my first day. I was given a court bundle to prepare for a hearing and also to draft grounds of appeal for a detained client on the asylum fast track process with a deadline for the same day.

I have been given the opportunity to expand on my skills as a Level 2 accredited Immigration and Asylum case worker by attending fast track interviews and Tribunal hearings, attending screening and substantive interviews at the Home Office with minors, and also representing vulnerable detained clients in immigration removal centres. I enjoyed the outdoor travel, I was out of the office usually 3 days per week and I appreciate that Duncan Lewis gives their trainees the freedom and responsibility to handle their own caseload under supervision.

I was able to enhance my advocacy skills as Duncan Lewis allow their trainees to represent clients at Tribunal hearings, this is something which trainees at other firms may only have limited opportunity to gain experience in. Duncan Lewis provided all the necessary facilities and training courses are always encouraged.

I have now started my second seat in the Mental Health department at Duncan Lewis and I am really enjoying learning about this specialised area of law. I also feel a lot of satisfaction in being able to represent a very vulnerable and marginalised section of society.

In my opinion training at Duncan Lewis definitely allows you to build your confidence and legal skills to become a great lawyer.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Jarmilla Entezari on 29 April 2010 at 15:28

Applying for a Training Contract can be a daunting experience for a law student. It is very important to find the right practice as it shapes the rest of your career.

From the commencement of my Training Contract at Duncan Lewis, I have met clients from different ethnic backgrounds and played an active role in the Immigration Team. I was encouraged to get accredited under the Immigration and Asylum Accreditation Scheme. Before finishing my seat in the Immigration department, I was able to obtain Level 2 – Senior Caseworker .I am equipped with many transferable skills that are required for the legal profession. Training in the Immigration department at Duncan Lewis was extremely varied and very hands on. I was able to deal independently, yet under appropriate supervision, with asylum clients as well as work registrations for European Union citizens.

At Duncan Lewis, trainees are encouraged to be individuals as well as an important part of a team. In my second seat in the Litigation department I was also able to take an active role in matters. I received extensive understanding of County Court actions first shadowing my supervisor, and near to the end of my seat, representing clients at County Court. I found it very easy to adapt the skills I gained as a Senior Immigration Caseworker to my Litigation experience.

During my training at Duncan Lewis, I was taught how to transfer my skills from one area of practice to another. I feel that my accomplishments as a Trainee Solicitor make a substantial contribution to Duncan Lewis at large.

Giving actual responsibility, Duncan Lewis ensures that there is an equal, if not greater support and supervision of their trainees.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Jerome Rampersad on 29 April 2010 at 15:29

When I heard the news I was granted a training contract at Duncan Lewis solicitors I could not believe it. Soon enough I was sitting in the induction session and learning all about the different areas of practice offered by Duncan Lewis and what the firm expects from me.

My first seat was working in mental health at our Dalston branch. It was a very steep learning curve, but the environment is perfect for learning. At every stage of case preparation there is someone to turn to for advice and confirmation of how best to proceed. I always had guidance from opening a file correctly, case management systems and understanding the finer points of mental health law and practice.

At Duncan Lewis trainees get hands on, real world experience and are encouraged to operate independently and take ownership of their cases as well as manage clients’ expectations at the level of a qualified solicitor. This takes place under the careful supervision of panel accredited supervisors who provide valuable feedback at regular appraisals.

Duncan Lewis has a packed social events calendar and this is a great opportunity to network with other trainees, caseworkers and solicitors to share our experiences. Working on complex legal issues and with the most vulnerable clients, it is reassuring to know that I am well supported at Duncan Lewis and my efforts are appreciated and rewarded. The people I work with are brilliant and this makes the difference in having a truly enjoyable trainee experience.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Sonia Lenegan on 29 April 2010 at 15:32

The only reason I wanted to be a solicitor was to undertake legal aid work, to help those clients who are most in need. Duncan Lewis, as the largest legal aid firm in London, was the obvious place for me to apply for my training contract. I started in the Employment department, where I was able to utilise my previous experience in this area to undertake a high level of responsibility from the start, being involved in every aspect of cases, from taking initial instructions from clients, to drafting their grievances, preparing claims, schedule of loss, witness statements, written submissions to the Tribunal, as well as negotiating settlements for clients.

I am currently in my second seat as a Trainee Solicitor, which is Immigration, where I get to help clients with applications for asylum, and also applications made on human rights grounds, as well as advising on general immigration matters. In order to undertake legal aid immigration work, you need to have certain levels of accreditation. So far I have sat and passed my Level One accreditation exams, helped by the study materials and in-house training provided by Duncan Lewis, which included doing a practice paper which was then marked and returned. In June I will be taking my Level Two exams, following which I will be able to conduct advocacy at the Tribunal, as well as help clients who are detained and allocated to the Fast Track system.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Alex Goscimski on 30 April 2010 at 15:24

What do you want out of your training contract? I’ll tell you what I wanted; experience. I definitely got my fair share. Let me tell you about it. Some people may say that not all training contracts are alike. I wouldn’t necessarily agree. Two years, three seats, a few professional skills courses, these are the basic ingredients of a training contract, ask any trainee. The difference lies not in the contract, but in the firm that offers it. I work for Duncan Lewis, a firm that understands the importance of giving their trainees the best experience supported by the best supervision. Now ask yourself how much experience can you handle?

I have worked in Crime department on murder cases tried at the Old Bailey (several), I have held legal visits at every prison in London and taken instructions from hundreds of clients from a wide range of backgrounds. I have advised suspects at police stations suspected of Criminal offences you haven’t even heard of (and need to look up in Archbold). I’ve advised clients at Immigration Removal Centers, Local Authority offices, submitted applications for asylum seekers, helped families stay together through applications based on Article 8 of the ECHR, and I’ve helped people get married too.

My old Sensei used to say; learning is a lifelong journey. Get a head start, you won’t find more experience waiting for you at any other firm than Duncan Lewis.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: David Gregson on 30 April 2010 at 15:25

I started working in Duncan Lewis in December 2008 as a paralegal. In August 2009 Duncan Lewis awarded me a training contact. My first seat was in the Immigration and Asylum Department.

In this seat I was required to undertake a large caseload which involves all ranges from Immigration, Asylum and European matters. These matters include dealing with clients both in attendances in the office and outdoor work which involves visiting detention centres and prisons.

The level of responsibility given to trainees in Duncan Lewis is very high. From the start of the training contract I was given my own caseloads. This is particularly rewarding as it gives you the opportunity to express your style and own case management without the intervention of other fee earners on those matters. I have found that the responsibility I have at Duncan Lewis is unique when compared to other training contacts where limited responsibility is the norm.

The support offered to trainees in Duncan Lewis is very strong. Be it work related or a personal issue, Duncan Lewis offer a wide variety of services which are easily accessible through its own intranet system.

The firm is also involved in a large amount of marketing events. As a trainee I have found these events particularly useful as it has given me an insight into what the firm offers to a number of different communities who require our assistance. As expected Duncan Lewis is at the forefront of many different political issues. In being in this position the firm is involved with many marketing events within the political spectrum.

I have just finished my seat in the Immigration and Asylum department and am full of confidence that my new seat, Prison Law, will be as much of a success.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Jodie Craven on 30 April 2010 at 15:29

I started work as a trainee with Duncan Lewis in June 2009 and I can honestly say I am loving it. I wanted to train at Duncan Lewis because of the variety of law they offered training in and I knew that I would be afforded all the opportunities I wanted in a training contract.

I had already gained experience in prison law therefore I started my first seat in this area. Rather than spending the first few weeks photocopying and assisting other lawyers, I was given a case load and allowed to get stuck in. I wanted to concentrate on my advocacy skills and the firm supported this from the outset. I have represented numerous clients in a variety of cases including a number of oral hearings within the prison setting.

One of the key areas of law I wanted to gain experience in was Employment Law and so I am currently in this department at Duncan Lewis as my second seat. I had studied this at law school however I did not have any practical experience and was a little worried in case this prohibited the work I was able to do, however this has been far from the case. I was immediately taken under the wing of my supervisor, who allowed me to see clients with him from the outset. Following this, I have been given my own case load and I have been able to get ‘stuck in’. I am finding this position extremely rewarding, only recently I have had two clients who were facing dismissal from their employment and as a consequence of the submissions I made to their employer, they weren’t dismissed!

At Duncan Lewis, I am learning daily and have great support from my supervisor and colleagues alike. I am never inhibited to ask any questions and if I am ever stuck on a question, there is always someone happy to help. Duncan Lewis provides a good support network for trainees and if we ever do have a problem, there is always someone to talk to who will work with you to resolve those issues.

I am thoroughly enjoying my experiences at Duncan Lewis as a Trainee Solicitor and I feel I am getting the best experience and training. I believe that the ability to have your own work load and run your own cases puts you in good stead for a successful future.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Kishan Soburrun on 30 April 2010 at 15:30

Duncan Lewis is a young and ambitious firm sporting some of the most highly rated solicitors in their fields is how I would describe Duncan Lewis. The quality and variety of work available for Trainee Solicitors is very good (exceeding expectations in some cases) . There is also high quality supervision and support readily available.

We, Trainees, enthuse about the welcoming atmosphere, the friendliness of colleagues including Partners and Supervisors and most importantly the Firm's vision to establish itself as the Largest provider of Publicly Funded Civil Law Services

We also enjoy more responsibility and hands-on experience than peers at other firms . The structure of the Training is second to none - using excellent external training providers in addition to internal teaching. Social life is great too with subsidised night out and plenty of organised social and charity events.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Najiyah Habib on 30 April 2010 at 15:31

I started my Training Contract with Duncan Lewis in April 2009 in Immigration Law. I am now in my second seat doing Welfare Benefits and I am due to qualify as a Solicitor in October 2010.

When I joined Welfare Benefits at Duncan Lewis I was first apprehensive as I thought it would only be about filling in applications for clients so they can receive their benefits. However, after being in this seat for 4 months now it has totally changed my view of what Welfare Benefits actually entails.

I have gained plenty of experience so far in my second seat and my work primarily involves areas such as Benefit Fraud which is very challenging and exciting. I have also assisted my supervisor at Duncan Lewis on a Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit Judicial Review case, where the client involved had not received her benefits for over half a year since she made her application. She had seven children and was in serious financial difficulty as she had no means of income. We were successful in the case and the client started receiving her benefits.

As a Trainee Solicitor at Duncan Lewis, I have been given a high level of responsibility and exposure since the beginning of my Training Contract, which has been invaluable. I was able to see client’s on my second day under supervision, which was very exciting. I feel I have learnt a great deal at Duncan Lewis in a small amount of time due to the immediate responsibility that was given to me.

The training experience at Duncan Lewis is excellent and I would recommend aspiring lawyers to apply for a Training Contract with the firm as I believe one will not get the amount of practical exposure any where else.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Pooja Verma on 30 April 2010 at 15:31

The responsibility placed on a trainee at Duncan Lewis is incredible. Your initiation from the first day at office is when you are trusted with your own files, which gives you the confidence and the feeling that you’re playing an integral role in whatever the matter may be. Trainees thus form an important part of Duncan Lewis and our contribution is always highly valued.
As a Trainee Solicitor, my first seat was with the Immigration Department. Some of the work I have been involved in since starting with Duncan Lewis has included attending client’s at detention centre’s, working on Asylum matters up until client’s are not granted status, working closely with Assistant Solicitor on appeals work and preparing clients for hearing at the Asylum Tribunal, drafting client’s representations and statements to send to UK Border Agency alongside advising clients on Immigration rules. There were times when some of tasks you handled are not the most exciting but at the end it’s an experience in learning. You are given a direct dial to the client’s and thereby trusted to build on existing client-counsel relationships.
My second seat is in the Debt Department. My experience here widened when my work changed drastically. I was now looking in matters involving bankruptcy applications, writing off large amounts of loans, checking of consumer credit agreements, rescheduling client’s debts, property possession orders, charging orders to name a few.
Open plan is the culture at Duncan Lewis which is what differentiates it from any other law firm. This means you will find yourself sitting near, if not next to, Heads of Department. From a trainee perspective this is valuable, you will observe and hear how Associates and Partners work and thus picking up additional skills by simply observing at work.
There is no closed door policy at Duncan Lewis, everyone knows each other and acknowledges you, your work and are very friendly.
Duncan Lewis provides a good working environment besides work-life balance and there are a number of social, entertainment and sporting events to get involved in. Towards this year end, Duncan Lewis has formed various committees which organize these events with active participation of its employees with the aim to raise money for charity.
My training over the years at Duncan Lewis has gone by incredibly quickly and has been challenging and enjoyable. I would definitely recommend applying at Duncan Lewis as Trainee Solicitor for aspiring lawyers.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Sophie Burchtt on 30 April 2010 at 15:34

Duncan Lewis is unique in recruiting many of their trainees internally; from their extensive reserve of paralegals. This allows a potential trainee the opportunity to work in and to gain experience and insight into both the firm and the areas of law that it provides before committing to what is an important stage of their legal training.

I started at Duncan Lewis as a childcare paralegal immediately after completely my LPC. Immediately I was awarded the responsibility and opportunity to become involved in live cases and to steadily build my own caseload and increase the scope of my work; varying from interviewing and advising, drafting court documents and client’s statements, liaising with experts and doing my own advocacy. This was an invaluable opportunity to enhance and develop the skills and knowledge gained on the LPC and certainly one that I know I would not benefit from in other firms. Some criticise this approach and suggest that paralegals and trainees should not be given this level of responsibility however the level of supervision and guidance that I continue to receive means that I am closely supported and monitored whilst being constantly challenged and pushed to reach my potential.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Tricia Harding on 30 April 2010 at 15:35

I was working in the Mental Health Department as a Paralegal at Duncan Lewis when I was given my Training Contract. I was extremely pleased as I knew that Duncan Lewis specialises in different areas of Law which affect many people in the community.

I was surprised at the level of responsibility that I was given as a Trainee Solicitor where I would be managing my own caseload from beginning to end in addition to working closely with clients to meet with their expectations. However I truly believe that this responsibility has been extremely positive in developing the skills that I need to be a good solicitor and provide real hands-on experience for my future career.

Throughout my time at Duncan Lewis, I have been provided with the support and guidance I need to manage my caseload effectively and efficiently. The legal knowledge of the solicitors in the Department is second to none and the people I work with are simply fantastic with real personalities. There are always opportunities to approach them for further guidance and to share my experiences, which is essential in facilitating my own learning and development.

There are so many opportunities for a Trainee Solicitor to take an active role in the marketing side of Duncan Lewis and participate in many charity and community events. As well as being fun it allows a Trainee Solicitor the opportunity to further contribute to the Firm’s development. The social scene at Duncan Lewis is also fantastic and it allows trainees to meet with other people in the firm and share their experiences.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Dounia Arstim on 4 May 2010 at 15:26

The life of a trainee at Duncan Lewis by Dounia Arstim

I started at Duncan Lewis as a childcare paralegal immediately after completing the LPC in October 2008. I was gradually introduced to case work and child care procedures. I was also given the opportunity to attend a number of court hearings and build my case load at a steady pace, whilst being closely supervised. I believe that my role as a paralegal at Duncan Lewis prepared me for my role as a trainee solicitor.

I deal with both private law and public law childcare cases. The type of work I do varies from interviewing and advising clients, drafting court documents and client’s statements, liaising with experts and Local Authorities. I have also done my own advocacy, including emergency applications before a District Judge at the Principal Registry of the Family Division. As a result, I have developed my personal and professional skills while working with Duncan Lewis

I have always felt supported by my supervisor and in my team. I can approach my supervisor whenever I need guidance or assistance and there are other childcare panel members eager to assist when needed.

Duncan Lewis offers law graduates an opportunity to progress from paralegal to trainee to solicitor and ultimately to an accredited panel member. There are solicitors in my team who started their legal profession at Duncan Lewis and this is very encouraging especially in this economic climate.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Sonia Panchal on 4 May 2010 at 15:33

Traineeship, hard work but rewarding, all trainee Solicitors in the current economical climate can appreciate, securing a job is hard, but securing a traineeship is even harder. It is therefore a great privilege to be given such an opportunity at Duncan Lewis.

As a Trainee Solicitor, I am currently in my second seat, Mental Health and before that I was in the Child Care Department, where I was admitted as a paralegal and secured my training contract. I hope for my final seat to be in the Family Department in Harrow.

What does it mean to be a trainee at Duncan Lewis. It means having learnt some of the basics and being able to apply it to clients and see them through part or whole of their case. It also means learning, as there is no one day which concludes without me not having learnt something, whether it be legal or other skills to make me a successful solicitor.

As a Trainee Solicitor at Duncan Lewis, the range of work that I have been involved in includes: meeting clients, taking their instructions, advising the clients, and then following through with their instructions. This may sound straight forward, but I have been fortunate enough to have had the responsibility of some difficult client’s with complex matters. Yes, fortunate, because it has often been these cases from which I have learnt the most, as I have had to think outside of the box and go that extra mile, either to understand the client or to get the end result.

I have had an opportunity in both my seats to have participated in advocacy, which I know I would not have had the opportunity to do elsewhere other than at Duncan Lewis. Further to this my supervisors have supported me throughout and it is often said that your supervisor can make or break your traineeship. I can certainly say that I have learnt and been guided through every step of the way, and believe I am on my way to become a well rounded and assertive solicitor.

On a final note hard work does pay off. This has allowed me to progress and learn not only about myself, but getting a realistic result for my client’s along with working with other professionals. This I believe has put me on a good path towards becoming a qualified solicitor. I am proud to be a trainee at Duncan Lewis and hope to call myself a solicitor for Duncan Lewis after I qualify.



Duncan Lewis Blog - Posted By: Duncan Lewis Trainee Solicitor hopeful on 26 October 2010 at 16:41

Duncan Lewis has six offices and is the largest legal aid law firm in the UK. This is what attracted me to the firm when I finished my LPC. Duncan Lewis offers more of their training contracts to in house caseworkers. I managed to get a role at the Harrow Branch in the Family team and have been there for almost six months.

I am currently applying to be a trainee solicitor at Duncan Lewis. It is a great environment to work in and colleagues are friendly and helpful if you are stuck. Being a trainee solicitor at Duncan Lewis will allow me to learn a lot more than if I did my training contract elsewhere as trainee solicitors at Duncan Lewis get to do a lot of hands on work with careful supervision. With the correct supervision you stand to learn a lot. I hope to get my training contract this round at Duncan Lewis, so I can enjoy life as a trainee.