When I started at Ashfords, my first thought was 'am I always going to be doing all-nighters?!'. This was primarily based on the series of horror stories I had heard through the grapevine. Fortunately the answer was no. Although I would have struggled if I was workshy. It turns out, late nights are not a regular occurrence, but they do occur.
Thinking about this topic, it's worth asking yourself a few questions…
What do you want from your firm?
I was after a good work/life balance, so Ashfords was a fantastic choice. That said, Ashfords expect high quality work and commitment to the role. In exchange, they are an incredibly understanding team that want well round individuals who have commitments outside of work too - that's what makes us all unique!
There have been times however that looked like I wouldn't be going home soon due to an overwhelming amount of work. Fortunately, team members have normally spotted this, saving me from drowning in work, that's the sort of firm I'm proud to be a part of. I have learnt to speak up more now about my workload. That dialogue with the team is important as it helps us to complete work in a timely manner for clients and helps share the workload - a true team spirit in a firm that doesn't encourage relentless hours. Likewise, if I see someone struggling, I'll try to offer help to ease the workload, we're a team after all.
What do you want to get out of your training contract?
I've tried to take work from a range of different colleagues and departments where possible. It exposes me to more law and better enhances my training contract experience. It has meant sometimes I've left the office a bit later, but it'll definitely pay dividends in the long term.
Naturally some departments are more likely to finish late than others. Particularly where the team are trying to get a deal over the line or litigation proceedings have been quite demanding. In these situations, I just expect later finishes - it's part of the job!
How do you want people of view you?
Do I want to be the trainee the pops in to everyone's mind when there is a task to do? Because I'm known for high quality, reliability, keenness and a good team player? Absolutely I do! It may involve me staying later to get everything done but it's invaluable being known as the trainee who says "yes!".
Here are a few tips I've picked up along the way:
Be Sensible. Don't work late every night if you've got nothing to do, go home and appreciate your time.
Find that balance for yourself. Ashfords is a firm that promotes a good work/life balance, whilst still expecting high standard from their staff - find that complimentary balance that works for you and the firm.
Manage your time well. People think highly of those that manage their time well, getting their work done in a timely manner and going home at a suitable hour. If you are constantly finishing late, either you have too much work (and should think about speaking up), or you need to manage your time better.
Be honest with yourself. If it looks like you've got a big deadline looming, get ready to settle in for the evening. Remember, you've chosen a career in law and no one ever said it was going to be easy. Sometimes it may even mean cancelling plans with friends or family, which isn't ideal, especially if it's an unforeseeable urgency. Your friends and family are the most important thing, so make sure you make it up to them and don’t make it a regular occurrence.
Figure out what works for you. I've known people who only do late finishes once or twice a week, some people come in early to leave on time, others finish late on an ad hoc basis, and some people decide to finish late every night! Find out what works for you, and what will help you get to where you want to be.
This blog post was written by Sarah Shrimption. For more details please contact us.