Over the last 12 months of my training contract I have completed seats in Employment and Property Litigation, both of which were diverse, challenging and exciting. Reflecting back over the last year, I have identified 5 top tips which I would tell any new trainee starting their training contract:
1. Be organised
As a trainee you will be assisting a number of fee earners in the department with various tasks. Juggling a number of matters becomes a skill and everyone has their own way of prioritising their workload. I would strongly recommend asking each fee earner giving you work when they would like their work done by in order to help you prioritise your tasks. Personally, I find that daily to do lists and calendar reminders assist me with keeping on top of my work and meeting important deadlines.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
As a new trainee it can be daunting asking a senior fee earner or Partner a question. Although it is important to use your initiative, do not struggle in silence! My personal experience is that fee earners do not mind you asking a question provided you have tried to find the answer yourself before going to speak to them. There is such a thing as asking too many questions.
3. Get involved
Make an effort with your trainee intake. Not only is it important to make good friends at work but it is good to have a group of people who you can discuss and share your experiences with. Additionally, as a new trainee it is beneficial to get your face recognised around the firm. Volunteering to assist at internal and external events is a good way to meet fee earners in other departments and offices. Additionally, it is good to get involved with the firm charity and CSR events.
At this stage in your career, you may feel that you are too junior to network; however, it is never too early to start building your network of contacts and raising your profile. There are a number of networking events targeted at trainee solicitors and other young professionals such as those organised by the Devon and Somerset Junior Lawyers Division and the XYBC. These events are a great opportunity to meet other young professionals in your position in a relaxed and fun environment. Additionally, make an effort to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and share any articles you have drafted.
5. Keep an open mind
Some of you may have started your training contract with a clear idea of the area of law and type of work you would like to do. However, although you will have the opportunity to submit your seat preferences, there is no guarantee that you will get your preferred seat and you may find yourself in a department you had not previously considered. My biggest piece of advice to any new trainee is to keep an open mind. Each seat I have completed so far has surprised me in more ways than one; even if you do not think that area of law is for you, you will learn valuable skills from the seat that will be transferable across all departments.
Finally, enjoy yourself and make the most of being a trainee.