Trainee Blog: Training contracts myths 'debunked'

With the first year of my Training Contract completed, I thought I would take the opportunity to 'debunk' some of the common myths surrounding Training Contracts.

Myth 1 'You must have a degree in law'

Contrary to popular belief, many solicitors have not completed a law degree. One of the alternative routes involves studying a non-law degree followed by a one year conversion course; the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law). This course is designed to cover all of the core aspects of a law degree so you will be equipped with everything you need to start the LPC (Legal Practice Course). The new SRA Solicitors Qualifying Examination ("SQE") is due to be introduced in 2021, replacing the existing GDL and LPC courses. Non-law graduates will be able to sit the SQE examination and it is likely that a preparatory course akin to the GDL will be introduced to prepare non-law graduates for the SQE examination.

Myth 2 'Legal dramas'

As an avid 'Suits' fan, I can safely say the realities of the Training Contract have not quite lived up to the world of Harvey Spectre! That is not however to say there have not been similarities. During my time at the firm I have completed work for several varied and high profile clients including the Ministry of Justice, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, Soros Economic Development Fund, Barratt Homes and RGL Management. I have also had the opportunity to work on a number of international matters, for example, I recently assisted on Bucharest's largest commercial property deal.

Myth 3 'You must have an Oxbridge degree'

There is often a perception that a career in law is elitist and inaccessible. This is simply untrue and in recent years diversity and access to the legal profession has increased and improved significantly. So no, you do not need an Oxbridge degree to obtain a Training Contract. The trainees at Michelmores have studied at a wide range of universities, and I completed my law degree at the University of Exeter. To increase diversity in the profession when Michelmores initially screen Training Contract and Vacation Scheme applications the university that applicants have attended is not assessed as part of the review process. Furthermore, Michelmores has been mentioned in 'The Times' for recruiting a higher proportion of state-school pupils as trainees than the average law firm.

Myth 4 'Trainees are glued to the photocopier'

Trainees are not expected to spend copious amounts of time copying documents at Michelmores. Instead, they are expected to be heavily involved in legal work as there is a clear focus on trainee learning and development. As a result, this has provided me with valuable lessons in learning to delegate work and work as part of a wider team. Looking back on my first year at Michelmores I am surprised at how much I have learnt already.

Myth 5 'Senior members of the firm are unapproachable'

When I first started my Training Contract I was pleasantly surprised at just how friendly and willing to help everyone is, including partners and other senior members of the firm. I have found that trainee supervisors are always willing to make time to answer questions and ensure that trainees are receiving the right level of support and training.