Every day is different as a commercial lawyer in Birmingham. I am currently on a secondment, on-site, with our retail client who has instructed me via the HCR Flex model – our flexible legal support which allows businesses to supplement or complement in-house lawyers in order to provide ongoing legal support to the business. The nature of a HCR Flex secondment means often dealing with seven to eight commercial contracts a day, working as efficiently as possible to ensure the matter is sufficiently progressed.
So to summarise my current typical working day… I arrive on-site around 8:00am and grab myself a coffee from downstairs (inadvertently checking what sandwiches are on sale in the cafeteria). I run through my to-do list and deal with any urgent emails which came in overnight. I am always met with a few ‘quick queries’ in person by various members of the finance and IT Team – I do enjoy that ‘on-the spot’ problem solving!
At 9:00am I meet with the procurement team to discuss a few issues they are facing with two separate suppliers relating to a failure to consistently hit KPI’s and the other supplier attempting to impose a price increase in the contract.
I reviewed the respective contracts the evening before and provide specific advice on the legal position and immediate next steps. There is always a balance between the legal position and the commercial deal, and often, if approached in the right manner, you can secure a favourable outcome for the business. In between my meetings I quickly check my emails to see if anything urgent has cropped up.
I have another meeting in the morning with the design team, which tends to be a fairly lively session. I run through intellectual property searches undertaken on the new designs proposed by the team to ensure, where possible, that existing designs do not infringe third party intellectual property rights. We also discuss any steps we need to take to protect a particular product that the business is intending on producing, and as such, we have to move fairly quickly.
I set aside the next few hours to run through the current matters I have on and get some drafting completed.
Not entirely surprising, my to-do list is flipped on its head as a high-value outsourcing agreement needs to be concluded imminently, for business continuity and commercial reasons. I quickly familiarise myself with the latest position noting that the main point of contention is the ‘liability clause’ (as they often are!). Being on-site means I can take necessary instructions from the business and quickly advise as appropriate. Again, there is balance to be struck between effectively managing risk and ensuring the matter is sufficiently progressed. One of my golden rules is – use unambiguous and clear-cut wording and if a particular liability is to be excluded, ensure the clause specifically says so!
Given it is a particularly busy day, I take a quick lunch with some of the team downstairs and return to complete the remaining matters on my list.
My day finishes slightly earlier as I have been invited by a client to a ‘play on the pitch’ event at the Hawthorns, the home of my beloved West Bromwich Albion. Following my performance, I realise that I should definitely stick to my day job, although I think I may have still done a better job upfront for them this season!