Congratulations. You’ve survived the LPC, come out the other side relatively unscathed and now you’re ready to begin the training contract you’ve worked so hard for. If you’re like me, you’ll be a mixture of excitement and nerves in the build-up and that’s totally normal (I think so anyway!).
Starting a new job can be a stressful experience, let alone when the new job is essentially a two year job interview. I think most trainees go into their training contract with a slight sense of apprehension, but there are some easy ways to feel prepared and calm the nerves ahead of week one.
It’s likely that you will find out your first seat a few weeks before you start the training contract. For some, you’ll land in a seat that you’ve got experience of, but more often than not this won’t be the case. I was in Ashfords’ Corporate team for my first seat and other than the Business, Law and Practice module of the LPC, I had no experience in this area at all! But that is what a training contract is all about. Learning new skills, getting new opportunities and being taken outside your comfort zone.
Brushing up on your LPC notes before starting and doing a bit of research ahead of time is a great way of giving yourself a timely confidence boost. You’re not expected to know it all when you arrive, but when you’re being set tasks or being briefed on a new matter you’re going to assist with, knowing the basics and being able to identify some of the issues is a helpful starting point.
Your fellow trainees are going to be your friends and support over the two years that follow, so it’s good to build those relationships early. Thanks to LinkedIn, it’s quite easy to reach out to other trainees who will be joining the firm at the same time as you. At Ashfords, we also have a ‘Touchpoint Day’, where the trainees get to meet each other ahead of starting the job. This a great way to get to know the people you’re going to spend the next two years with. I was lucky that I already knew a couple of the other trainees from the LPC, but getting to know the other trainees a bit better before day one meant that during the first few weeks there was always a friendly face around. It’s likely that the other trainees are feeling the same nerves and apprehension that you might be going into week one, so they’ll likely be grateful for you reaching out.
Some trainees will have legal experience, others won’t. Some may not have even worked in an office before. Everyone has had a different journey to this point. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter, because what you all have in common is that you’ve never been a trainee before. During your training contract, there will inevitably be times where you feel stressed or overwhelmed. There will be times, particularly at the start of a new seat, where you think you’re totally incompetent (spoiler: you’re not). Those feelings can be difficult to grapple with, but it’s important to remember that you’re not the only one feeling this way and those friends you’ve made in your first few weeks (if you followed my advice from point 2!), are firmly in the same boat as you are. So before you start, accept the fact that it won’t all be plain sailing and remember, your firm won’t expect the world of you, so don’t expect it of yourself!
As I’ve alluded to, the start of a training contract can be a stressful time, but it’s important to remember how well you’ve done to get a training contract and that passing the LPC is no easy feat.
The best advice I can give ahead of your training contract is to relax and not overthink it! If you can, take some time out beforehand to do things that you enjoy. The next six months will be full on as you get used to a new workplace, new job, new areas of law and increased expectations, so starting in the right frame of mind is important!