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A Day in the Life of a Lit Exec

Ever wondered what a career in the legal sector is really like? Well, I have, and found day-to-day affairs to be under-described online. So I’m here to set out what I did yesterday, as a Litigation Executive and as a 24-year-old individual. This was quite a standard day.



06:30


The first alarm of the day went off. I pressed snooze, before realising that alarms are there for a reason and, begrudgingly, getting up. At this point, I focussed on getting a good breakfast and making sure I looked reasonable enough for a day in the office. No time for a full face - is there ever? - it was a tinted sunblock kind of day.


Standard office hours are 09:00 - 17:00 but my department tends to have some flexibility. I had planned to arrive an hour early yesterday as I needed to leave at 16:00. This warranted an instant coffee - ‘nice’ coffees are reserved for slow mornings. I also filled up my (ridiculous) gallon water bottle and made sure to drink some so as not to start the day behind schedule. Whacking on some lipstick, I shouted ‘see you later’ up the stairs and left the house. As always, I complimented the garden as I walked through it, then embarked on the 20 minute walk to work.


08:00


I bumped into a colleague on the way into the office and had to kick my brain into gear a few minutes early.


On entering the office, the initial priority is always to turn on my PC and check on any emails which may have come in since I logged off. I worked on these, making sure to attach them to SOS Connect and print them for the supervising solicitor. I added all of this to my ‘filing’ pile, which I then confronted: separating and filing anything of priority. I then sent a memo to a trainee solicitor to update her on the outcomes of two Pre Inquest Review Hearings I attended on her files before the weekend.


I checked my calendar for any meetings or tasks already planned for the day; nothing too set in stone. I then moved on to review my to-do list, rearranged things as per their priorities, and made a sketchy plan for the week. Litigation is very much about deadline management, so this is a really important admin step to remember.


I noticed that I have an appointment booked for later in the week which clashes with my shift on the abuse line rota; messaged the group chat; agreed to switch with the colleague who would usually do the shift that morning. The abuse line is how we receive new enquiries - these can come through emails or via the phone. Everyone in the department does either a moring or an afternoon per week to spread the distraction out. I grabbed my New Enquiries folder, ready for anything that may come in.


I then switched into the latest pair of shoes I’m attempting to break in and pulled up the main piece of work I am working on at the minute.


09:00


At 09:00, the office opens and the main working day begins. By this point, I am in my flow with the task at hand - a review of some social services records on a file which I have come to know very well. Reviewing records is the ‘bread and butter’ of my job, and can take a long time depending on how lengthy and detailed the records are. This is day three of this particular review.


10:00


The online referral system pushed through a couple of New Enquiries. Logging these on both SOS Connect and a department spreadsheet, I look over the details recieved. One looked interesting - I put this to one side with a post-it note to telephone them tomorrow and discuss their enquiry in more detail. The other was totally out of our realm of work, so I sent an ‘unable to assist’ email and recorded this on the systems.


My office phone lit up - I picked up to another new enquiry, who started telling me about their situation. I made notes on my pre-made questionnaire and let them know I would speak to the solicitor but may need to transfer them to another department. Another two emails come through: one was irrelevant, and the other noted they found it difficult to speak about their situation. I fired off an ‘unable to assist’ email, and then contacted the other enquirer with an online questionnaire for them to fill out, and offered a phone call if they felt able to take one.


My office phone lit up again: someone in another office asked me to chase a few team members. I did as such, and took the opportunity to release my printing - used this to bolster the filing pile.


I then finally got back to working on my review. Work on this continued relatively uninterrupted.


12:30


Office phone. Switchboard asked if we could help with a particular situation - we could not. Advised them on how to deal with this and where to signpost the enquirer.


I grabbed my lunch from the fridge - leftovers from last night - and ate whilst working. I then used my notes of the morning to record the new enquiries on the two relevant systems. I like to get this done before lunch so that it doesn’t loom over the rest of the day.


13:00


At 13:00, the abuse line shift finished and somebody else took over for the remainder of the day. I took the opportunity to have a lunch break. I razzle-frazzled as I didn’t have time for the gym. I had been looking forward to it and vowed to go 'tomorrow'.

I spent my break ticking off my personal admin list (schedule an appointment; message the group chat to arrange the Fantasy Football draft; review the latest payslip dropped on my desk; update my calendar with upcoming study sessions; sent an email to ULaw; order the LPC textbooks; draft a food shop list; draft this piece up to this point...). Checked on my water bottle, which was amazingly on target.


14:00


Back to work. Just two hours left. Gorgeous. I put my headphones in and chose a new album to listen to: Surrender by Maggie Rogers. I tend to listen to music in the afternoons as everyone has settled into their work and the flow in the office is better so I’ll be less likely to be interrupted. I also find that music keeps my brain moving and my fingers typing when I’m getting tired.


I grabbed a leftover flapjack from Cake Friday (often the highlight of the week). On the way back to my desk, I had a quick chat with a colleague about our recent court dates.


15:30


Realising that my flow was too good and it was almost time to go, I grabbed my calculator to figure out the day's time recording for the review I had been working on. I updated my review record to reflect this and created an online File Note of the same. Printed - added to the filing pile.


16:00


Done! I check my desk to make sure there is nothing confidential left around, pull on my trainers, and head out of the office. I met a friend from school who was in the city for a book signing - we grabbed a takeout coffee, purchased a bookmark form Waterstones, then found somewhere to sit in the sun.


I was meant to be at the Enough is Enough Rally at Manchester Cathedral, but just do not have enough free time this week to fit that in. Instead, I prioritised my friend and then headed home to start the rest of my day.


19:30


By the time I got home, dinner was almost ready. I had a quick debrief of the day and sat for five whilst it was being finished. I then inhaled a bowl of stir fry.


20:00


We had very little in the way of food and definitely no breakfast for the morning in as neither of us had had time to go food shopping. We assessed the (sad) fridge. I pulled on a jumper over my suit and we jumped on our bikes to ride to Lidl. Immediately realised we have a flat and had to walk instead. I was grateful of the slower pace as it allowed my brain to check out for ten minutes.


21:30


Considered booting up my laptop and settling into my home office. I start the LPC in two weeks, so last night I wanted to start to prepping for the first Professional Practice workshop. Accepting that I was not going to be productive after such a long day, I watched House of The Dragon instead. Also searched the internet for a new bike pump.


22:30


Bedtime alarm. Pressed snooze, of course.


23:00


Headed to bed. Took my daily French lesson on my phone (preparing for a trip to Paris). Read my book until falling asleep. Too tired to find and try my new bookmark!


Niamh O'Connor / niamhfoconnor / published 31.08.2022

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