Trainee blog: (Net)Working from Home

[Read time: 3 minutes]

The first month of your training contract is always going to be a daunting experience, never mind the additional pressure of working from home in a national lockdown. One crucial aspect of life as a trainee is networking, whether in the office or at home. Whilst it has certainly become more challenging to organically meet colleagues, it has also created new opportunities for trainees to widen their net beyond those they would normally see in the office.

I have put together a list of suggestions, which alongside my own experiences will hopefully help to make forming connections a less formidable process.

Always accept an invitation

Getting as involved in as many events as possible, and never turning down an invitation was a great way to ensure I met as many people as I could in my first month. The first of these events was a virtual escape room that all current and future trainees joined in December. The event was a great way to get to know other trainees, let our competitive sides out and get a sense of firm-wide Christmas spirit before the holidays.

The Friday evening Agricultural Team socials always include memorable ideas such as Ten Pin Bowling (water bottles and a grapefruit are not a great substitute for a bowling alley) and a Bridgerton inspired music quiz. Whilst these ideas may not always be met with the greatest of success, they are a fantastic excuse to get to know colleagues on a less formal basis.

Smaller meetings

I have found that getting to know people in smaller groups can be much less intimidating than on a large Teams call. I started in the Agricultural Property Litigation team in January and immediately got involved in a variety of cases with individuals across the team. The team made an effort to schedule calls to get to know me over coffee breaks, which I tried to use to ask both work and more personal questions. Connecting with colleagues is easier if you take an active interest in their work and passions.

On a firm level, the new Coffee Roulette initiative has been a great success for trainees, who are always hoping to meet more people. These sessions are a fun and informal way to connect with colleagues and recreate the accidental conversations that we are currently missing through not being in the office together. I have been grouped with colleagues across the different offices, such as Exeter and London, who I would not normally have had the opportunity to meet. The conversations I have had range from Netflix recommendations, dream holidays, work and home-schooling.

Use Social Media

With remote working becoming the new normal, more of us are turning to social media to keep up to date with each other. Making good use of online platforms to share your experiences, connect with other lawyers and share articles you have written are all good ways to maintain your profile within the firm and build an external network.

Follow up

When someone has spoken to several people in one day, it is possible that they will not remember you, even if they intended to. Remember to note down names and follow up with an email thanking them for their time. If you spoke about a memorable topic, make sure you bring this into the follow up email.

Plan for the future

Ensure you plan for future events to attend, whether these are in person or online. Many opportunities, such as events put on by the Junior Lawyer Division, have been moved online. Do your research and plan to attend these events.

It is very easy in a national lockdown to justify solitary behaviour, however this will not be a successful strategy in the long run. Starting to build a network now will be of use to you in your future career. Early on in your training contract, practice is key to success, so try to make the most of all the opportunities that you can.