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A Seat in Dispute Resolution

04 August 2023

The Dispute Resolution team are a tight-knit group based across the London and Cardiff offices. There’s usually only one or two Trainees, which means you can get involved with lots of cases on different subject matters with various different team members; they’ll often be in different courts across a wide variety of industries.

You may work on a case from the very beginning, from the point of pre-action letters right up to preparing for (and attending) a final trial – and supporting on appeals too. You’ll also quite likely get some experience of alternative dispute resolution, such as attending a mediation.

It’s difficult to give an exact overview of what it’s like to be a Dispute Resolution Trainee, as no six months will ever be the same. It will entirely depend on the sorts of cases which are live and where they are in proceedings. For example, though I did go to court for other hearings, I didn’t have the chance to attend a full trial, as there simply wasn’t one during my six-month seat. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge wealth of experience to get, whatever happens during that time, and every day is different (in a good way!).

Here’s some of the regular tasks you may get involved with as a Trainee, within Commercial Litigation.

Starting out

For anyone nervous of jumping in at the deep end with Litigation, especially with all the rules and procedures, never fear: at the start of your seat, you’ll get a really comprehensive series of training sessions which cover a lot of the key phases of Litigation and the tasks you may encounter through your seat. There’s also lots of ongoing training year-round, which Trainees are invited to, to keep you up-to-date with recent cases and changes to the law.

Attending court and other meetings

This will really depend on what phase of Litigation each case is in as to what sort of hearings you may attend. I went to a range during my seat, including two CCMCs (case and costs management conferences), an enforcement hearing and a hearing in the Insolvency Court. It’s always great experience and you’ll be needed to take a note of everything that happens. It’s likely you’ll have been involved in preparing documents or making the bundle for the hearing too, so you’re really close to the detail of the case.

You’ll also likely attend lots of meetings with counsel and clients – you’ll be needed to take notes, but it also means you get to hear the different strategies and approaches the team takes depending on the matter and the client involved.

Drafting and preparing documents

Throughout the lifecycle of a case, there are lots of documents which will be produced; you may even get a chance to draft some of these or you’ll be able to get involved in the later review stages of substantive statements of case. You’ll often be required to complete final checks to ensure everything is present and correct before the documents are filed or sent. You’ll also likely draft various letters and other shorter pieces of correspondence to support with case management. On some smaller cases where Trainees may take on some more responsibility with drafting,, you may even be drafting letters before action or other substantive correspondence.

Document reviews

This can happen at various stages of Litigation; it may be long before proceedings have begun, where you’re helping to review the evidence to put together a claim (or a defence) for a pre-action letter, or in preparation for disclosure. This can be quite a chunky task depending on the matter but it’s still great experience.

Bundling and court filing

There will be bundling to be done as a Dispute Resolution Trainee – anyone doing a Litigation seat will get some experience of it. Though it may not seem like the most exciting task in the world, it’s a necessity of Litigation and it’s a good way of getting close to the detail of the case and knowing the background and the documents involved in each matter. You’ll also get completely au fait with all court procedures and regularly liaise with the court on administrative matters.


As every case is quite different, there will often be quite specific questions which need to be answered to properly put together a claim or a defence. Therefore, there’s often research to be done; that may be finding precedents for the particular factual matrix you’re working on, looking into procedural rules or getting to grips with a niche area of law.

There are many other things you may get to do which don’t really fit under these broad headings here; for example, I prepared a lot of statements of costs during my seat. Whatever you get to do, there’s an enormous range of experience to be gained from Commercial Litigation – and as someone who originally didn’t think Litigation was for them, I had my mind entirely changed by my seat in Dispute Resolution!

I really enjoyed the six months I spent in Commercial Litigation; it was a busy seat where I got a breadth of Litigation experience. The work is intellectually challenging and varied and I had a lot of exposure to really interesting clients and cases.

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