What our trainees and apprentices say

Jamie Cawthorn – Trainee Solicitor

I joined the firm in September 2016 and my first seat has been in the Corporate department.  I have really enjoyed my first 4 months here and in that time have been involved in a wide range of corporate work, both transactional and restructuring based.  With the former, I have worked on a matter involving an owner-managed foreign entity buying a British company and with the latter I have been fortunate enough to be involved in a debt restructuring and issue of a listed Eurobond.   Other work I have completed in this department has involved advising a director on their powers and on the rights attaching to different share classes within their company, drafting written resolutions, minutes and, on one occasion, a waiver to be signed by holidaymakers before going scuba-diving – this took some imaginative drafting and was a really interesting task!

Having very little previous experience of Corporate life before starting at Thomas Cooper and knowing the reputation that this area of law has within some of the larger City firms, I had been slightly concerned that my first seat might turn out to be a baptism of fire.  In fact it has been completely the opposite and I have found it to be a really enjoyable experience.

Thomas Cooper is a mid-sized firm with an open door approach and this means that as a trainee you are aware of, and often asked to assist with, work that is going on in other departments in the firm.  So far, in addition to my corporate work, I have been involved in a variety of matters including: researching who has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute alleged criminal offences on cruise ships at sea, reviewing a French footballer’s contract with his agent, and preparing for and then attending a 3 day trial in the Commercial Court.  There are certainly some more mundane tasks such as bundling and copying that need to be done, but that is just part of being a trainee and people in the firm are always appreciative once they are done.

I applied to Thomas Cooper because of my interest in shipping law and because of the firm’s reputation for giving trainees responsibility in a supportive environment.   The work I have been given is often challenging, but sitting with a partner means that I have always felt very well supported and time has always been made to answer any questions I might have.  The firm has a very welcoming feel which makes settling in very easy and the people are friendly and approachable.  I have very much enjoyed my training contract thus far.

Jamie Cawthorn

Joined September 2016

Emma Halton – Trainee Solicitor

I chose to pursue a legal career at Thomas Cooper because of its renowned shipping law practice. I commenced my training contract in September 2016 and am currently sitting in the Shipping Department. Since I arrived, I have been heavily involved with a variety of matters. Most notably, I have followed a case to arbitration. In this regard, I worked alongside the Senior Partner and Associate in preparing for the arbitration and was allocated the responsibility of compiling the trial bundles. Having worked tirelessly in the preceding weeks, I was then able to attend the arbitration. Despite having no former shipping knowledge, being so actively engaged with the case enabled me to learn a great deal about the shipping industry and the intricacies of shipping law. Whilst I am thoroughly enjoying the work my training contract presents, I am also very appreciative of the supportive network of fellow colleagues fostered at Thomas Cooper.

Emma Halton

Joined September 2016

Catriona Boyd – Trainee Solicitor

My first seat at Thomas Cooper has been in the Employment department.  At the time of writing this I am now four months in and have been lucky enough to already have been involved in a wide range of both contentious and non-contentious matters. In this department I have particularly enjoyed the variety of work as in one day I have found myself doing work on matters for premier league football clubs, ship owners and large airlines as well as for individuals. So far I have been involved in meetings with clients and counsel, preparing short advices for clients, liaising with the employment tribunal, preparing research notes and corresponding with the client and the other side as well as the more mundane, though important, tasks such as preparing trial bundles and photocopying.

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Catriona Boyd

Joined September 2016

Nicole Cheetham – Trainee Solicitor

My first seat at Thomas Cooper has been in the Marine and Commercial Litigation department. I have been fortunate enough to be involved in a large variety of matters, ranging from small personal injury cases to large multi-million pound disputes and I recently got to attend a hearing in the Court of Appeal. While there are more mundane tasks such as photocopying, I have been trusted with a huge variety of tasks including drafting instructions to counsel; corresponding with client and the other side; meeting with clients; attending meetings to attempt to settle claims; meeting with counsel; preparing disclosure lists; and attending court to speak in front of a Master unsupervised.

The partners and associates are always willing to explain and give guidance on both specific tasks and on matters you are working on. There are also in-house lectures and external events, both of which trainees are encouraged to attend to increase knowledge and to network.

Thomas Cooper’s size and friendly reputation make it particularly attractive to trainees, who quickly settle in and are made to feel welcome. However, the firm also has an international presence, and I am particularly looking forward to being able to complete a secondment in one of the foreign offices!

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Nicole Cheetham

Joined September 2015

Felicia Zeller – Trainee Solicitor

I first heard of Thomas Cooper while working in the shipping industry overseas. The firm was recommended to me as an excellent place to train focused on all things maritime, distinguished by both its international reputation and its friendliness. Since I joined in September 2015, it has more than lived up to this recommendation.

Thomas Cooper was my first choice firm because of two distinguishing characteristics: its size and the nature of the work. It offers the unique combination of being a top maritime firm with international presence, while still being small enough to be very personable. The focus on shipping and international trade meant I expected the work to be varied but never out of my area of interest, and the chance to spend a seat in one of the overseas offices is an added bonus – it is a great opportunity to work more directly with an international client base.

The firm’s well-established reputation means that the work is of a very high calibre, and in contrast to many of the larger City firms trainees are not only allowed, but in fact expected to get involved in complex cases and given a greater level of responsibility than elsewhere. What I have enjoyed most so far is that there is no typical day in the office – the work is wide-ranging, and can involve anything from more mundane tasks such as trekking across London to a serve court order to conference calls with Singapore. My first seat in the Finance and International Trade department has been a steep learning curve. Because I had had no prior experience in finance, I was unsure what to expect when I started, but I needn’t have worried. So far I have been involved in a variety of things:  the sale of a yacht, review of trade finance documents, a dispute under a letter of credit, and advising major international banks on multi-million dollar loan facilities. The most interesting and challenging work so far has been assisting Norwegian buyers negotiate an English law shipbuilding contract with a Chinese yard – it involved some inter-cultural understanding, and a lot of imagination to anticipate future potential problems to make sure these are covered in the contract!

The strongest contrast between Thomas Cooper and many larger firms is the friendly culture and the excellent work-life balance. The firm has an open door policy, and since trainees sit with a supervising partner there is plenty of opportunity to ask questions. Curiosity is always encouraged, and everyone at every level of the firm will strive to help you as best as they can with any problem. In addition, there are internal lectures and presentations given by the partners as well as by chambers and experts, which help to broaden one’s knowledge about the industry. The team are generally very sociable and welcoming both during and after the working day; paired with frequent external and networking events this means you quickly meet not just your colleagues, but also many clients, lawyers, and other professionals within the maritime industry.

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Felicia Zeller

Joined September 2015

Edward White – Trainee Solicitor

I applied to Thomas Cooper because of its reputation as a specialist in shipping law, and for the opportunities it grants trainees to work abroad in its overseas offices.  I joined the firm in September 2015 and started in an Employment seat in the Finance department. In my first few months I assisted with a wide range of matters, such as advising on redundancies at international corporations and bringing wrongful dismissal claims against professional football clubs. The work has been challenging and rewarding, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the variety of cases that I have been able to assist with.

Trainees at Thomas Cooper are given plenty of responsibility and independence from an early stage, which means that you learn quickly and can contribute to the firm beyond simply helping out with mundane tasks such as bundling and photocopying (although this is certainly something that you are required to do from time to time). The people at Thomas Cooper are friendly, approachable and have a good sense of humour, and I have very much enjoyed training with them.

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Edward White

Joined September 2015

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