Evie Meleagros, Dispute Resolution Partner
Cast your mind back, what were your expectations when applying to Fox Williams all those years ago?
I applied to FW six months before I started as a trainee – in those days the firm was much smaller and there was no lag between application and joining. That worked well for me as I just wanted to get moving with training and qualification. In hindsight, this was a smart move given that, soon after starting in September 2008, we entered a major recession as a consequence of the subprime mortgage crash in the US.
In truth, I am not sure I had any expectations at that point. Even if I did, they would have been blown out of the water by the economic crisis – my first seat was in the Employment department and I hit the ground running dealing with bankers in the droves who had lost their jobs. It was a fascinating way to learn how critical lawyers are in a time of crisis.
What were the best parts of being a trainee?
Learning! Learning everything.
Everything is new, and each day is another opportunity to learn and develop your skills. You’re given a wider berth, too – we all make mistakes and lots are made as a trainee, but that’s how we learn.
The senior people that I have learned most from and that have supported me the most since I joined the firm, have been those that took that approach with me.
What is it about FW that means you’ve continued your career here?
I always feared being a lawyer in a London firm would mean that I couldn’t be myself. I don’t necessarily fit the mould of what people might expect a lawyer to be like, and I was worried I would need to shoehorn myself into that mould.
But I have not had to do that once, and I am still here! Being myself and being encouraged to give my opinion on matters (both internally and in respect to client work) , has had and continues to have a huge positive impact on my career here.
What personal qualities would you say you need to succeed here?
Hard working, enthusiastic, positive attitude, a genuine desire to work in a team in a collaborative effort.
Apart from becoming partner, what’s given you the most personal/professional satisfaction here?
Driving forward the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion agenda.
What advice would you give to potential applicants?
Whatever firm you apply to, make sure you are as satisfied as you can be that it is the right firm for you – don’t just think of it in the reverse. A training contract is a two-way street!
I was very conscious of that when I first applied to Fox Williams and it’s one of the reasons why I have spent my whole legal career here.
That coupled with the support I’ve received from all corners of the firm at all levels of experience has been key in getting from trainee to partner.
I aim to get into the office by 9:00, so that I can enjoy a quick breakfast and coffee. I check my emails for any urgent work that has come up over the weekend and I then draw up a to-do list to prepare for my day’s tasks.
I attend a weekly call for one of my matters to discuss progress and action points for the week ahead. I take notes during the call and circulate them to the team afterwards. I am also asked to draft an email to the other side’s solicitors to update them.
We have an in-person client meeting attended by the client, the matter partner, a partner from dispute resolution and me. Lots of our work spans multiple sectors, so working with partners, associates and trainees from other departments is common. The client in question had his employment terminated unfairly. As I had previously been tasked with calculating his losses, I am given the opportunity to take the lead in asking him questions regarding his thoughts on my calculations. Trainees are expected to be prepared to step up and take on additional responsibilities when managing clients, all whilst under the tutelage of partners with expertise in the field. As a team, we then discuss how we present these findings to the other side’s solicitors.
Most matters are made up of a team of either a partner and a trainee or a partner, a trainee and an associate, which helps to maintain contact with and learn from more senior members of the firm.
Following the client meeting the partners and I have a debrief in order to evaluate how the discussion went. I proof-read and circulate the attendance note of both meetings and draft action points for each member of the team.
We have a bi-weekly employment department meeting to discuss ongoing matters in the department and look at capacity levels for the week. This is a good opportunity to seek out interesting work, and to identify who in the team requires assistance. If I am quieter than usual, I will describe my capacity as “green” so that my colleagues know that I am available for new instructions and that I can help out wherever necessary.
I receive a call from a partner asking for urgent assistance on a new matter. I am asked to procure a visa appointment for an employee of a major tech company who needs to travel to a European country on business. As I have never done this before, I have a quick discussion with an associate who tells me who our immigration contacts are that can help me make such arrangements. The associates at the firm are very invested in the development of the trainees and they often spare time to guide us through any work we might have or answer any questions. I make the appropriate calls and I am able to ensure that we secure an appointment that works for our client’s travel dates!
Shortly after, the partner gives me a ring to congratulate me on a job well done. I am very pleased that they have acknowledged my work right away.
Lunchtime! The trainees (and sometimes associates!) often eat lunch together and it is a great opportunity to catch up on everyone’s days. This is an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the trainee cohort and offer a hand to anyone who needs some help, particularly if they are in your previous seat.
Following a client call from last week, I am asked to draft a witness statement regarding an ongoing unfair dismissal claim. I ask an associate for a previous witness statement they have done on the matter, so that I can ensure that the style and presentation is consistent. I review the note of the client call carefully, ensuring that I encapsulate the tone and individuality of the potential witness. Before I am happy with my work, I give it a final proof-read in order to ensure there are no errors. After writing up their answers, I flag any sections in which we need further information or clarification. I then draft an email to the client, asking them for further information to fill out these gaps, and send it to the matter partner for approval.
I receive an email from the associate for the witness statement asking to discuss the work. Associates regularly find the time to give feedback on trainees’ work and this is a vital part of our development. This allows me to take detailed notes on the constructive feedback and continually improve the quality of my work.
I manage to catch the head of department and ask them if they could use any assistance towards the end of the day. They are thankful for me reaching out to them and ask me to harmonise contracts for an employer that is changing the terms of their service agreements. I make the necessary changes and make some suggestions as to how we can further protect the employer’s interests by making some further amendments.
Depending on my workload, I can usually leave the office around this time. Before I leave, I ensure that my daily task list is complete and close all of my time narratives. I pack my bag with all my notes and resources, as I know that I will be working from home tomorrow.