My workday starts with a review of my emails and calendar. The commercial litigation team I am in has a broad practice, as such, we have a number of matters in various courts and Australian jurisdictions. As a junior lawyer, I am responsible for keeping the team aware of hearings and deadlines and being aware of critical time zone differences between Western Australia and the eastern states. This ensures we can manage and overcome any practical difficulties in filing and serving documents.
After the team digests its list of tasks, we meet to discuss priorities.
The matters we deal with are at the stage where they require multiple pleadings and affidavits to be prepared which will keep me busy for the next few weeks.
Being a junior lawyer means things sometimes don't go to plan, so when a new matter comes up, I am usually the one working directly with a senior associate to prepare a brief to counsel.
One of the great things about the Perth office is the practice groups are broad. For example, the commercial litigation team I am in has various general commercial litigation, class actions, financial services, intellectual property and IT and competition matters on at any time. The urgent matter is a competition matter which will provide an opportunity to wrap my head around consumer law.
As a junior lawyer, it's my responsibility to review the information we intend to use in drafting the affidavits and identify any gaps in the information we have been provided with. In preparing these affidavits there are a number of searches required from various government departments and bodies and potential follow up requests from the client. To keep track of these, I am asked to prepare a schedule noting the different entities and documents required to complete the affidavits.
With this schedule at hand, I can start on the first affidavit. This affidavit is a procedural affidavit, as such, it is largely formulaic. Despite this, it is still an important affidavit as it will set out ownership and history of the assets and the various corporate structures. Working through the affidavit also helps me to uncover further documents we will need to acquire.
One procedural affidavit down, three employee affidavits to go. The client provides us with enough documents to allow me to start drafting these affidavits, however, there is no complete story on the documents, and the narratives start to blur together with time. Upon investigation, it becomes clear that there are several earlier emails with attached documents which we don't have copies of. I add these to the list of documents to request. As the matter is largely a "he said she said" dispute, the affidavits have a lot of gaps which are not evident from the documents we have. To fill these gaps, I draft a list of interview questions for the client at a later date.
Once I have completed the draft versions of these affidavits and reviewed them, I send them off to a senior lawyer to review before we discuss it with the partner. I also include the schedule of documents for consideration.
Our building has an internal gym, which all staff have access to. Our team try to use this by having team fitness days on Wednesdays. Today's class is a tough functional movement class which always involves a couple of laughs.
After recovering from our team fitness class, it is time to touch base with my supervising senior associate, who has been at the client's office for most of the morning. He fills me in on the client's issues and how we're going to resolve them. I leave his office with a number of research tasks to complete our brief to counsel and start chipping away at them.
Clayton Utz's Forensic & Technology Services (FTS) practice group works side by side with our lawyers by providing forensics services ranging from forensic accounting and investigations to ethical hacking. As discovery has long since shifted from four letters a year to what is now millions of emails, FTS is crucial to ensure we produce all relevant documents and thoroughly investigate the information at hand.
We received a major production yesterday for one of our pertinent matters and it has now been uploaded to the document hosting platform, Relativity. As a junior lawyer on a big litigation matter, it is my job to coordinate discovery and manage documents. With a mediation a month away, I have arranged a meeting with one of our FTS analysts to try to identify key documents produced by the other side for a priority review.
We start by identifying data points to narrow the initial pool of documents for our own review. We then work through the plaintiff's metadata and pleadings to identify anything else which can help us "to find a lake within an ocean and organise the fish by relevance". Whilst we will need to review all the documents produced, by taking a targeted approach to the review, we can find important information faster and more efficiently.
The senior lawyer has had an opportunity to review the affidavits and schedule of documents. They have a few queries so I'll need to clean them up before we meet and discuss the affidavits with the partner.
The partner is still at chambers for another matter, so I continue to work on the brief to counsel until they return.
The partner has returned and we sit down to discuss the affidavit and document requests. He's happy with the drafts and suggests some amendments before we send it to counsel for review overnight. I make the changes, prepare an email to counsel and we send the affidavits off for their comments.
I check in with the team and check if anyone needs a hand with anything before I head off.
Some friends from university and I have our monthly dinner catch up. Everyone has ended up working in government or the various professional service industries so it is a good opportunity to keep a finger on the Perth economy and see how everyone is tracking.
It's time to go home, get ready for tomorrow and grab some well-deserved sleep.