A Day in the Life of the Costs Team
Jonathan Frith has worked at Winns for five and a half years. As Assistant Manager of the Costs Team, he is key to the day-to-day running of the department, which focuses on recovering costs and disbursements. Jonathan will soon qualify as a Costs Lawyer, after completing a three-year training course through the Association of Costs Lawyers, funded by Winn Solicitors. Jonathan talks us through a typical day at Winns:
When I arrive at the office, I start the day by considering reports which demonstrate the fees taken by the firm over the previous day or week, and compare them against monthly forecasts and annual budgets. I consider our performance against targets, relay information to the team, and provide encouragement for the day ahead. I update monthly overviews for the department manager and the directors.
If I’m advocating on any upcoming hearings I spend time preparing my skeleton arguments, considering witness evidence and reviewing the cases generally before making sure that all relevant documents have been filed with the Court in line with the Civil Procedure Rules or any specific Court Order.
I take time each day for one-to-one supervision with team members, predominantly in relation to litigated matters and upcoming hearings.
I also allow time to liaise with fee earners and provide advice on general costs matters, for example the preparation of costs provisions for court orders or discussing the quantum of costs during an adjournment at a local hearing.
I nip out for a coffee on my lunch break, and then catch up on legal costs blogs and websites. Costs is a very fast-moving area of law, so it is important to keep up-to-date on the most recent changes and developments.
After lunch, I might be required to take part in a telephone hearing. For me, this is the most exciting part of my role. Hearings are the culmination of our hard work, represented through a few succinct submissions. There is no such thing as a straightforward costs hearing. County court matters are routinely appealed to the higher courts, in order to set precedents, so it’s important to be aware of any angle that your opponent may be looking to take and to have prepared appropriately.
I meet with the Department Manager with regards to strategy, or the team’s current performance.
It is important that I set aside enough time each day to ensure the smooth running of the department. For example, I’ll liaise with IT regarding systems, oversee the allocation of new files within the department, consider holiday requests, and look over outgoing correspondence.
I look out for any potential issues or changes which are likely to affect the team over the forthcoming days and ensure that resources are in place to deal with them as effectively as possible. Following this, I debrief with the department manager, and take another look over the costs websites before leaving for the day and making my way to the gym.