Lawyer Profile Bill Geiringer
I realised early on in my training contract that dispute resolution was the area of law I wanted to specialise in. It was fast-paced, strategic, tactical; all the things that made me want to be a solicitor in the first place. So, when I was taking my seat in the Litigation and Regulatory department, I jumped at the opportunity to assist the civil fraud team in an application for a worldwide asset freezing order.
After the claimant had contacted the matter partner, a team was quickly assembled. Time is very much of the essence in civil fraud work. The longer it takes to obtain the order, the more time the defendant has to potentially dissipate stolen assets, so the pressure was on from the word go. There were several interesting elements to the case: offshore lawyers and private investigators were involved, with a criminal investigation running alongside our civil work. As well as my role in the document review team, I had sole responsibility for liaising with the private investigator. After several conversations, I drafted a witness statement in his name, documenting the steps taken to try and locate the defendant and the assets. It was a great feeling to see my work being used as evidence in support of the application.
Despite the intense time pressures, I was fully supported by my supervisor and senior members of the team. I hadn’t drafted a witness statement in its entirety before, so they took the time to explain to me what was required, helped decide on the questions I needed to ask the investigator, and gave advice on the format of the statement and the important points to emphasise in support of our application. After all our hard work, it was immensely satisfying to successfully obtain the freezing order.
The team ethic that developed under the pressure of that week was great, a real motivator, and I felt, as did all members of the team, that my work and input was really valued. The time pressures of civil fraud work mean trainees will often be given tasks that are perhaps above their level of experience. But challenging yourself is a great way to learn. Through my involvement in this case, and the support and advice I was given, I now feel totally confident to make the transition from a trainee to a qualified solicitor.