Trainee Blog: Seat Rotations

My first year as a trainee at Michelmores is almost up, and seat rotation is once again looming. It can be a challenging time as trainees have hushed discussions at lunch, and try to anticipate which departments will offer a space. It is also a time for reflection on what aspects I've enjoyed (or not enjoyed) in my previous two seats and what I would like to experience going forward.

Training contracts at Michelmores are divided into 4 placements with different teams around the Firm for a duration of 6 months each. Each seat has a supervisor and you will receive a check-list of work that you should have experienced by the end of your time with that team. That check-list also functions as an overview of the work the team does.

My first seat was in Real Estate. This was really useful as property transactions transverse many aspects of law, and the breadth of work was significant. The learning curve was very steep in my first seat, as I wasn’t only learning a new area of law, I was also learning how the computer systems and phones work, where everything is situated in the building and who everyone is. As you select your first seat prior to starting work at the Firm, it’s important to consider what sector of law you might be interested in. I knew I was interested in Real Estate from my studies on my LPC, but keep an open mind and try not to become too focused on one particular area as the seat might end up not being available. 

My second and current seat is in Planning. Within this team I have had experience drafting highway and drainage agreements, as well as more specialist agreements for radar mitigation and provisions for bat protection. If you choose to, it is possible to tailor your seat to shape it into the experience you want. I expressed an interest in environmental planning, and as a result I was able to attend a seminar on Nuisance Species at the MET office. I also wanted to experience working in our other offices, and have been able to work in both London and Bristol during my time with this team.

My third seat will be the first time that my intake of trainees will have first choice over the list of available seats. It is important to consider at this stage whether you would like to be a contentious or non-contentious lawyer, and to get experience of both types of work if there's any doubt. Switching departments can also mean switching office floors, and there is a lot to be said for a literal new ‘seat’. You will meet different colleagues, which will improve your networking skills and open up more opportunities for new and interesting work.

Whatever department you end up in, engage with the practice area and involve yourself in the team. Many a trainee has qualified into a role they knew absolutely nothing about before they started in the seat. Above all, enjoy the experience – it’s not often you can start afresh every six months with a new team, completely different work and new challenges, and still receive a steady pay cheque.