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Ashwin: Associate and Former Trainee (London)

Ashwin Pillay
Associate and Former Trainee, London

A normal Monday morning would involve a review of any emails that have come in over the weekend and a meeting with my supervisor and other senior lawyers to discuss any potential next steps. However, this Monday I have been asked to go to the Royal Courts of Justice (RCJ) to watch a case regarding a VAT dispute which may be relevant for a client of ours. I briefly go over the skeleton arguments so I know what to expect and then head off to the RCJ which is only 5 minutes away. The court hearing is very interesting and things appear to be going well for our client. Although the hearing is scheduled to last a full day, it is over by lunch with a positive result for our client. I head back to the office to have lunch in the canteen with other lawyers and then head back to the team to provide them with a full debriefing. Everyone seems pleased with the result and I get down to drafting an attendance note to summarise the hearing in the morning. Once completed (and double-checked) I send it to my supervisor for comments.

I start the morning by reviewing some client comments on a Loan Agreement I had taken part in drafting and circulate a conference call dial-in to those clients, to discuss their comments. The call went well and the clients provided us with detailed feedback to aid our redrafting in preparation for sending to the Lender’s Counsel. We also have a call with a colleague in New York to discuss some areas of US tax law which are unclear. The international nature of the practice means we can get feedback and advice from our overseas colleagues very quickly, and they are always happy to help. Once I have incorporated all the relevant comments to the Loan Agreement and an Issues List (a document which shows which areas are still in dispute) I send on to a Senior Associate to review and provide comments. Luckily the comments are relatively minor and I can incorporate and send them on.
Every Wednesday morning the tax team have a tax training breakfast. This is a very useful opportunity to discuss the latest developments of tax law and allow for discussions on the tasks each member of the team has. This is a great way to ensure that no one is too busy, or too quiet. This week we are looking at reforms to the taxation of domiciles. I had a bit of spare time in the morning so managed to read up on them before the breakfast meeting. The meeting is very informative and there are lots of examples of where this could affect our practice and when it should influence our thinking. Due to the experience of the partner and associates the issues are explained clearly, and, when things move a bit too quickly for me to keep up with, they are all very helpful in going back a couple of steps to talk me through it. After the tax breakfast I am told there is a tax directors meeting taking place at S&C the following day and so I am tasked with preparing packs of documents for the speakers and attendees. There will be a number of FTSE 100 directors attending the meeting and so there are plenty of documents to prepare.
Thursday morning starts with a training session run by one of the senior associates for all junior lawyers, both American and English. This is a great opportunity to mix with the American associates and after a couple of training sessions already, many of them have become good friends. The training is on useful tips and tricks that come in handy during a deal and it is very helpful. The lawyer running the training is very approachable and more than willing to answer questions as he goes. Following this I receive comments on the hearing note I provided to my supervisor on Monday. The comments are very constructive and although there is quite a lot of marking up to do, I feel like I have learnt a lot. Where he has made changes, he has also provided explanations which aid my learning and mean I know what to look for next time. In the afternoon, we have a call with a client to discuss legal professional privilege and following the call my supervisor asks me to draft a memo based on the client’s worries and our research. I have a quick stop off at the cake trolley before beginning drafting. There are a couple of occasions where I am not entirely clear what to do but my supervisor is very understanding and helps me understand what I should be saying.

We have a call with lenders’ counsel based on the mark-up we had provided the previous week. Although there are some sticking points, the call seems to run very smoothly with the associate I am working with addressing concerns the lenders might have and clearly explaining our view. I then run through some comments a Partner had given me in relation to an article we are hoping to have published in the British Tax Review. The Partner, like all the lawyers I have worked with, is patient and understanding and does not merely give me the comments to feed in to the document, but explains why the changes have been made and gives me tips for the future. This is the third time we have been through the article which I originally drafted and it is great to see how the document has evolved and even better to understand why these evolutions have taken place. Once the changes have been put through and sent to him, I check in with the other team members to see if there is anything else I can help with, and, when told to enjoy the weekend, I head to the pub with a number of colleagues.


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