London seat myth-buster
Following on from my first blog post My first month in London: Getting to the bottom of the Royal Courts of Justice, my six month stint in Michelmores' London office is now at an end. Before I cram half a year's worth of my life back into my KA to make the 170 mile trip back to Exeter, I thought I would take the opportunity to reflect on my experience here and hopefully debunk any popular myths about working in the Michelmores London office, or in London in general for that matter.
Before starting my seat in London I had heard many things about the London seat, but I can confidently say that "easy" and "relaxing" were never some of them. On the plus side, "exciting" and "fun" did feature highly so I was prepared for a difficult seat and an incredible social life. Work hard, play hard etc. So, has the reality lived up to my expectations?
Myth number 1: You'll be working all night.
Being a trainee solicitor, whether in London, Exeter, Bristol or otherwise, is rarely a 9-5 job. London in particular has a reputation for keeping trainees "burning the midnight oil" and someone always has a story to tell about sleeping pods or weekend working, which are usually synonymous with corporate deal closing at some big City firms.
A disparaging quote about working in London is that you "work until the job is done… and the job is never done!". The reality of my life as a trainee in London is that you do work until the job is done, but the job often gets done and, unless it is absolutely urgent, it might be able to wait until tomorrow morning.
Myth number 2: Your job will be like an episode of "Suits".
I am often asked enthusiastically by my non-lawyer friends whether my job is like "Suits". Whilst I do enjoy seeing the awe in people's faces when I answer in the affirmative, the sexiness of BigLaw is understandably much exaggerated in Suits for entertainment purposes and the reality is slightly less glamourous.
Having said that, the quality of work I have been involved in is very high and one memorable case I worked on throughout my seat was widely reported in the press, including on the BBC. Not even Harvey Spector would turn his nose up at that. I can even draw analogies with Mr Spector's jack-of-all-trades approach to law. Whilst being both a litigator and transactional lawyer is somewhat rare in practice, I have often attended court and drafted documents for a corporate transaction in the same day. This is one major advantage of being the only trainee in Michelmores London office; your help is much sought after by various departments providing a uniquely broad experience of legal practice.
Myth number 3: Your social life will be excellent.
If I'm honest, my social life has improved but I am not egotistical enough to describe it as excellent. Your social life is what you make it and I do not think it can be stereotyped according to where you work.
I must admit though that there are loads of great places to go for lunch with colleagues or drinks after work and they are all within a short walk of the office. London is also awash with opportunities to do weird and wonderful things (a colleague recently spent an evening at a bar making papier mache monsters). Each to their own though, and whilst the hustle and bustle of London is appealing to many, the charms of South West, which my fellow trainee Sarah outlines in her blog post Living the dream…, remain unbeatable for some.
So, for any current or future trainees thinking about working in the 'Big Smoke', the reality of my experience is as follows: Hours = long, but not too long. Quality of work = very high (if not quite Suits). Social life = what you make it.
With Michelmores now offering a 2017 London Training Contract in addition to the Exeter and Bristol positions, 1 July 2015 is a deadline not to be missed.