Having now completed my final seat move of my training contract, I have taken some time to reflect on what is undoubtedly one of the most challenging parts of the whole experience.
Seat moves are never easy. Just as you reach the stage of (hopefully) feeling comfortable in your current department, you are suddenly thrust into a new team, maybe even a new office, and feel as though you are back at day one of your training contract. I have often found myself feeling that everything I thought I had learned in the last six months has evaporated from my brain!
Having said this, the challenges of the seat move process have definitely eased over time. Moving from my first seat to my second was a significant shock to the system, but comparing that now to moving from my third to my fourth, I am definitely more adjusted to the process and settling in to the new seat has been much more straightforward.
If I could travel back to my first seat move, there are a few things I would have reminded myself to make the process seem more manageable:
- You have developed from your first day of your first seat.
It may feel like you are completely back at square one, being presented with complex matters you’ve never worked and with any relevant LPC workshops feeling like a distant memory.
However, there are so many skills you will have picked up during the first few months of your training contract that you won’t have even realised. From understanding the IT systems, to being more comfortable communicating with clients, there are so many things that you continue to develop over your training contract and these skills will not have abandoned you! The law you are working on may have changed, but the principles of being a trainee solicitor remain the same throughout.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
This is probably one of the things you are told most on starting your training contract, however I know that sometimes when you change seats there is a fear that you should be asking less questions, as surely you should know it all, you’ve already been a trainee for 6 months!
The short answer to this is you can never know anything, and each department may have their own systems and processes that you wouldn’t have previously encountered. As at every stage of your training contract, try and find the information for yourself first, however there is no use spending an hour stressing about filing documents, when you could have asked the LSA in the team and they could have explained in seconds. Although do avoid asking the same question numerous times.
Always remember, the training contract is a learning process.
- Chat to your colleagues.
Throughout my training contract, I feel like I have been extremely lucky to be surrounded by an incredibly supportive peer group. Your training cohort will all be going through the exact same situation, and undoubtedly have similar thoughts and concerns.
Not only may they have insight into that seat, having potentially worked in it before, but they will be able to alleviate any concerns you may have. Sharing the best ways to tackle new challenges is one of the easiest ways to make your training contract as a whole more manageable.
- Give yourself a break!
One of the best pieces of advice I was given at the start of my training contract was to try and book a couple of days off around the two month point of each seat. At this point, I have certainly felt oversaturated with information, and definitely weighed myself down with too much unnecessary worrying.
If you can, a couple of days away from the office can re-set your perspective and you’ll return refreshed and renewed. Also, you’ll realise how much you have already learned in your first couple of months when you get back in to the office.
- It does get easier.
As I said at the outset of this post, moving from seat three to four was infinitely easier than seat one to two. The learning curve becomes less steep and the new information becomes easier to absorb as you reach the end of your training contract.