It’s not all about legal work! At Ashfords, trainees are encouraged to participate in a number of events and activities alongside their workload. In my first 12 months, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in a number of internal and external events and my confidence has grown considerably. The firm’s event offering can be grouped into three types:
Trainee events are arranged by the firm to help trainees engage with their peers. Events of this nature are invaluable because they help you to build rewarding relationships and develop the communication skills that you will employ throughout your training contract and future career.
During the trainee induction in September, new trainees participated in a networking lunch with Partners and Board Members at the firm. This was a fantastic way to meet members of the firm but was also a good refresher of my networking and communication skills. Although quite daunting at first, the networking lunch was great fun and provided an insight into the additional responsibilities expected of you as a trainee at Ashfords.
As well as networking, trainees at Ashfords are encouraged to get involved with charitable and CSR activities. The Ashfords Foundation arranges a “Trainee Challenge” each year. The challenge involves the firm awarding £50.00 to a team of trainees with the condition that the money is used to raise as much money as possible for the Foundation; by arranging events and activities throughout the firm’s offices. The teams had to pitch their fundraising ideas to the Foundation Board and other Partners, in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event, to win the £50.00. Creativity and strong presentation skills were essential for success in this challenge!
Networking and Professional events
Networking and Professional events are used by most firms to build their profile and create valuable connections with prospective clients. As a trainee, Ashfords encourages you to support and participate in events of this kind. Although this does involve showing up and taking part, you are also tasked with ensuring that event invitations are well publicised throughout the firm and circulated to the relevant fee earners.
Trainees are given the opportunity to attend a number of events hosted by clients and businesses. The variety is quite staggering, ranging from dinners to charity quizzes to wreath-making during the Christmas period. My favourite to-date was an event hosted by the Plymouth Women in Property Network, where attendees were given an exclusive pre-opening tour of Plymouth’s new history centre ‘the Box’ whilst networking with other professionals.
When I started my training contract, I was not expecting to have such extensive contact with clients and the local business community. It is fantastic to be given the responsibility and opportunity to engage in events of this nature. Through attendance at these events, I have grown confident when networking and most importantly, I’m growing my own professional network, which will prove extremely useful when I qualify.
In addition to attending networking events, trainees play a pivotal role in arranging the firm’s own networking events. Taking an active role in arranging events of this nature is encouraged, as it grows your internal network and your organisational skills. It also gives you an appreciation of the work that is needed to make an event successful.
Trainees regularly work with Fee Earners and the Business Development team to arrange these events, usually, we are involved in ensuring that the event has the right amount of attendees and runs smoothly on the day. Even as a junior member of the firm, your ideas and thoughts are valued and you are given a great deal of responsibility. Of course, it is a plus is that you get to come along and see your hard work pay off!
In the first 6 months of my training contract, I’ve been involved with arranging the Plymouth Breakfast Club, a breakfast networking event for our clients and business partners. I’ve also helped my office to arrange a Rugby World Cup event, where clients and Fee Earners met to catch up and cheer-on the England Ruby team in the summer.
The training contract programme at Ashfords recognises that it takes more than legal knowledge to succeed as a solicitor. It is clear from your first day, that the firm is committed to developing your capabilities and involving you in all aspects of firm life. Ultimately, I think that this approach to training will give you the technical and practical skills you’ll need to flourish in what is a varied, challenging and ever-evolving industry.