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How to prepare for your training contract

The trainee intake at Ashfords is varied. Some trainees have previously worked at Ashfords as paralegals, some have worked elsewhere as paralegals or in non-legal roles and others have gone straight from university and the LPC into their training contract. The truth is, it really doesn’t matter.

My (lack of) preparation

I had over a year to spare between finishing my LPC and starting at Ashfords. During this time I worked in a high street law firm assisting the office manager and senior partner with everything from HR to credit control and tender applications. This was a role which gave me a unique insight into how a law firm works, something which I would never have experienced by working as a paralegal in a particular department. However I was acutely aware that I did not have the paralegal experience of many of my peers. Was I going to be useless at my job?

I volunteered to write this blog post because I remember being worried about being on the back foot before I had even started. I did consider whether I should prepare myself in some way - surely there was a useful book I could read?

What did I actually do to prepare? I finished work in June 2016, went travelling, had fun and relaxed.

Looking back, I would not do anything differently.

How could you prepare?

The answer to this question will vary depending on how far away you are from starting your training contract and whether you have already completed the GDL and/or LPC. If you have got spare time then there are a few options open to you:

  • Work in a paralegal role - You will gain legal experience, understand the processes of a law firm and be ahead of the game in terms of experiencing at least one area of law in practice
  • Work in a non-legal role - Working in a different sector entirely can be hugely advantageous. Understanding a different sector could be invaluable knowledge at some stage in your career if you do legal work for a business within that sector. Any skills you develop are also likely to be transferable to your role as a trainee.
  • Volunteer - This could be legal or non-legal volunteering, and you are likely to develop relevant skills while doing something rewarding.
  • Travel - The value of taking some time out and relaxing before starting your training contract should not be underestimated!

If you have planned out all your spare time then you are probably as prepared as you need to be. The whirlwind of the first few weeks will not be any easier if you have re-read all your LPC textbooks.

What to expect

My first three weeks at Ashfords are something of a blur. For me everything was new, from the people and office environment to the computer systems and the area of law.

Many trainees will tell you that starting in a new seat is one of the most challenging aspects of completing a training contract. It is normal to feel out of your depth and constantly tired for a few weeks. (I was being serious about resting-up before starting!)

Before you know it you will have settled in, mastered you team's tea round and be a few weeks away from moving to your next seat.

Good luck with your training contract and enjoy!