My first day at Ashfords feels like yesterday and it is hard to believe that I am nearing the end of my first seat. Time goes very quickly as a trainee solicitor. There is a lot to learn and no one day is ever the same. I was particularly nervous about starting my training contract because I was new to the firm with no paralegal experience, so I have volunteered to share the 5 things I wish I had known. Hopefully these pointers will be helpful for anyone else starting in the same position.
1. It is normal to feel unprepared
You cannot prepare for every matter that you may be asked to work on, you will pick it up as you go and learn from your colleagues. Instead of starting your induction worrying about all the things you could have read but did not get the chance to, relax and enjoy yourself. Besides, the best way to learn is by listening to people with practical experience and by completing tasks for yourself.
2. The people are what make Ashfords such a great place to work
It sounds cliché, but if you ask people what they love about working at Ashfords, they usually say the people. If I had known how approachable and welcoming everyone would be, I would not have been as nervous about meeting everyone for the first time in September.
3. Get stuck in
Getting involved is daunting to begin with, but it is best to start as you mean to go on. Offer to do tea and coffee rounds. It is a great way to start conversations and interact with people that you have not yet spoken to and when people are busy they will be grateful for the offer of a hot drink.
This extends to answering the phones too. The best piece of advice I was given on my first day was not to assume that someone else will pick up a ringing phone. If your team's LSA (Legal Support Assistant) is busy they will appreciate you pulling your weight. It is also a great opportunity to improve your telephone manner and communication skills.
4. You will pick up the computer systems far quicker than you think
Expect to receive a lot of information during your initial IT training, but do not panic; practice definitely does make perfect. Although things will take a little longer to find to begin with, once you use the computer systems on a daily basis it all becomes second nature.
5. The importance of technology and keeping an open mind
This applies not just to life as a trainee solicitor, but in fact the majority of professions. Utilising technology rather than resisting change allows for increased output and efficiency. Before starting my training contract I was the first to admit that I did not know a great deal about technology. However, I now appreciate the vital role that technology plays in business. Ashfords specialises in the technology sector, meaning that throughout my first seat in the Bristol Corporate team I have been exposed to innovative clients and have had the opportunity to attend events such as Bath Digital Festival. I have now taken an active interest in developments within the Technology sector and think that this serves as a useful reminder to approach everything with an open mind; technology is something I did not expect to be so interested in before starting at the firm.