Looking for the traditional training contract experience? Apply elsewhere.

After 18 months as a trainee, first day nerves and oversize suit jackets are merely a distant memory and delivery of a crate box at the end of your six months has become a somewhat familiar process!  So what I have been doing since my last blog…

After six months in our Banking & Finance team I am now in my fourth and final seat in Property.  Banking life was brilliant; assisting on a wide range of complex transactions, interacting directly with clients on a daily basis and undertaking a variety of work which was technically very demanding!  I am only two weeks into my Property seat and am thoroughly enjoying the type of work I have been involved in to date and expect the responsibility I will get from running my own files will prove invaluable going forward.

I wanted to blog about something I have been involved since joining PM which at the outset of my training contract I thought was beyond the remit of a commercial lawyer (and I expect you did too, until reading this!).  Amicus is a charitable organisation which provides assistance to those practising in the field of capital defence in America, assisting directly in individual cases currently before the courts in America.  Amicus promotes the relief of suffering and distress to those and those persons families awaiting execution in America and who, for reasons of poverty, are in need of legal or other assistance to ensure the preservation of their rights of appeal and to ensure that their imprisonment is administered, so far as is possible, humanely.

PM was first engaged by Amicus last summer to assist a designated Amicus case worker in the review of case transcripts and prison records relating to the case of Craig Dean, a juvenile from Florida sentenced to life without parole (“LWOP“). Following the US Supreme Court’s decision in Graham v Florida in 2010 juveniles sentenced to LWOP are now able to challenge that sentence.  The team here at PM, encompassing solicitors of all levels nationally, were responsible for assisting Amicus put forward a convincing mitigation package to reduce Craig’s sentence to a fixed term sentence of 25 to 30 years.  On 7 February 2012 Craig was sentenced to a fixed term sentence of 28 years.  This was a fantastic result for Craig and it was great to be able to work in partnership with Amicus to ensure the delivery of justice for those serving life sentences in America.  More recently, we have assisted Amicus in the review of witness statements for a second juvenile facing capital punishment, more particularly helping the case worker identify people or items which may be used in mitigation, or to try and persuade the state to agree to waive the death penalty.

This weekend I and a number of other members of the PM Amicus team attended a training course hosted by Amicus in London and funded by PM.  This was an excellent opportunity to meet those working for Amicus in America and proved an invaluable opportunity to understand both the law and practicalities involved in representing individuals on death row.  We heard first-hand from individuals who had served time on death row for crimes they were wrongly convicted of and also from the families of such individuals, providing a unique insight into the personal experience of former death row detainees and their families.

Our contribution to the work that Amicus does is highly valued amongst those at Amicus and being involved has proved extremely rewarding from all those within PM’s Amicus team.  Assisting those in the field of capital defence is not something I had anticipated being involved in when I joined PM however, to date, there has been nothing traditional about my training contract!