On 1 March 2018 I joined 4 of my fellow trainees in becoming a newly qualified solicitor and it will definitely be a day that I will never forget. Whilst being probably the biggest achievement of my life to date, more so because the UK was hit with an onslaught of snow and I only survived about 3 hours in the office before I had to brace the journey home to where many of my fellow colleagues who've had the pleasure of visiting would describe as the middle of nowhere!
I was lucky to qualify on the date of my admission meaning my email signature changed automatically to 'Solicitor' and I didn't get stuck in the limbo that is the 'Legal Assistant awaiting admission'. For those that probably aren't yet aware (as I was previously not), the Law Society only admits solicitors on 2 days in the month meaning that if your seat rotation does not match these dates, you can find yourself not a trainee, not yet a solicitor. I also qualified early, having completed only 18 months of my training contract by reliance on my 'time to count' application.
I was of course nervous of my first day. No matter how often you are told not to worry and that people won't start expecting you to know everything, you do still feel like they will. However, other than the fact that I was entering a department that I hadn't worked in for a year, things were very same old. It felt more like your usual seat rotation than a life changing moment. This might in some ways be down to the training I received at Ashfords. Trainees here are actively encouraged and given the responsibility of client contact, matters to run with and tasks similar to those you receive as an NQ.
It really has been the small things that have been the most exciting and also made my qualification feel more of a reality than an eagerly awaited dream. The highlights have been simple changes such as my email signature reading 'solicitor' and handing out my new shiny business cards to potentially every person that I know. Of course, receiving my practising certificate and a bottle of champagne from the firm was also memorable. Embarrassingly, I must admit that I have also searched for my own name on the Law Society's "Find a Solicitor" page.
I am now a month and a half into qualification and am really starting to find my feet. I have been kept actively busy not only completing work on complex matters with other fee earners in my department but also with my own files. I have also survived my very first billing month. I have discovered that whilst the conclusion to over 8 years of hard work, qualifying is really just the next step of my development in my legal career.
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