Although an Ashfords training contract involves experiencing four distinct areas of law, the work trainees undertake is delivered to clients from a variety of industries and sectors.
Anyone researching law firms for their training contract applications may find that this is a common approach, and will undoubtedly read into how and why firms market their specialisms in terms of sectors as well as the traditional legal service lines.
Ashfords offers legal, professional and regulatory services across multiple sector specialisms, including technology, marine and transport, sports law and agriculture - amongst others.
What this means is that if a client approaches the firm, they are assured that the legal advice they receive will be underpinned with a practical understanding of their business and market. Tailoring advice in this way means that it is given in a real-world context, rather than from a one-size-fits-all approach.
Claiming awareness of a sector-based approach in applications and interviews is one thing, but how can trainees actually engage with it in practise? And how will doing so help their own professional development?
At Ashfords trainees are encouraged to practise networking from day one by attending the marketing seminars and presentations regularly held at each office. This can be a daunting experience, especially for those who aren't used to approaching people they don't know in a professional setting.
The firms' sector-based approach means that these events are designed to bring together industry-focused guest speakers with clients from the same specific business area.
As a trainee, this gives you the brilliant opportunity to research the event's target sector beforehand, then equip yourself with engaging conversation starters about the trading environment the attendees work in. Doing so makes all the difference with both growing your confidence to network with new people, as well as proving yourself as a commercially-savvy team member.
Trainees commonly say that the biggest challenge of their role is getting to grips with new areas of law as they change seats every 6 months.
Yet, working within a sector-focused firm means that you might actually assist clients in the same industry from the different practise areas you are placed in. The benefit of this is that if you consistently maintain and deepen your knowledge of the firms' sectors as you go along, you will be both more efficient at understanding your clients' needs from the different legal angle of a new seat, and ultimately more profitable for your team.
Furthermore, achieving this can be as simple as signing up for sector-specific weekly highlights emails from the legal knowledge database your firm uses.
As a trainee, a key aim is to achieve giving sound legal advice, on time, whilst working effectively as part of a team.
At Ashfords these things are naturally very important. But even as a first seat trainee, I have been taught that the trick to taking these skills further in the long term will be to establish strong client relationships and generate business opportunities along the way. Having your mind focused on what is going on in your clients' sector should help you to become a more rounded professional advisor, and reach this goal.