Trainee Blog: Qualification – it's that time already!?

In September 2017 qualification was a distant thought and something that I didn't think would ever arrive at my front door. But here we are, 23 months later and I am only a matter of weeks away from calling myself a qualified solicitor and no longer being able to hide behind the guise of, "but I'm only a trainee…"

From speaking to my peers, it seems that each of us arrived at our chosen area of qualification at different stages and through different means. Whilst some have known from day one where they wanted to qualify, others arrived at their decision much later in the day. I was somewhere in between… there were key lessons that I picked up during each of my seats which acted as indicators of where I might 'fit in' as a qualified solicitor.

Which seat feels right will depend on several factors, such as your aptitude for the type of work and how much you enjoy it, whether you enjoy the team dynamic and working with them. There may also be aspirational considerations; whether you see the team growing and how quickly you may be able to progress within it. It is essential that you place yourself in the right environment to facilitate your personal development and achieve your goals. 

Of course (as with most things in life) it is not as simple as being able to just pick and choose your preference. Your future role will be dependent upon external factors; in particular, your team must have a business case for any newly qualified role. We have been particularly lucky at Michelmores, who have been conscientious of each of our preferences throughout our training contract and have tried to facilitate these with regard to seat choices, practice area and location.  We are also reminded that qualification does not necessarily set your career path in stone – there are examples where lawyers have qualified into a particular team, but circumstances have allowed them to move into a different sector later in their career.

I will be qualifying with the Employment team at Michelmores, which is very exciting as it is the team I had hoped to join.  I am already sitting with this team as my final seat and am enjoying having more responsibility and building relationships with clients and contacts, using the knowledge and skills I have gained over the last two years.   

Whilst the thought of qualification is still somewhat terrifying for most (if not all) trainee solicitors, it embodies the 'finishing line' that we have all been working towards during our training contracts.  This year, it is sweetened by the fact that Michelmores will be retaining 100% of its trainee solicitors for the second year in a row.  Qualification presents an opportunity to reflect on what work you have enjoyed most during your training and where you see yourself fitting in for the next phase of your career.  On top of that, it is a very good excuse to celebrate!