Before starting my training contract at Michelmores in 2014, I attended a fantastic conference held by the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) and was so impressed, that when the opportunity arose, I jumped at the chance to join the Committee of The Devon & Somerset JLD.
Initially I was slightly concerned about balancing JLD obligations with my existing workload as a trainee. However, I have found Michelmores to be completely supportive of my JLD commitments – often actively encouraging them.
The JLD organises a wide range of events for trainees, paralegals and solicitors up to five years qualified – I always look forward to the monthly drinks socials, not least for the free nachos! Recently I attended a qualification and employment options seminar, not only did this allow me to meet other like-minded individuals, similarly daunted by the thought of what lies beyond the training contract. It also enabled me to get a handle on how the qualification process works and areas that are expanding (or contracting as the case may be) in the legal market at the moment.
Being part of the JLD committee does require me to dedicate a considerable amount of my time, this often involves making up work time elsewhere or heading to London a few times a year at the weekend. However, it has contributed greatly to my professional development. I am the national representative of The Devon & Somerset JLD, meaning I attend national meetings in London and am effectively the voice for the South West on different issues affecting junior lawyers in the profession.
As well as getting to visit the impressive Law Society office (just over the road from our London office) in Chancery Lane, this has greatly increased my confidence in public speaking and made me an effective team member when working to get our voice heard. Recently we have had meetings with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on topics such as the proposed abolition of the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and also discussions to decide JLD policies on unpaid work experience and loans for further study. The Devon & Somerset JLD has provided a valuable input on these important issues.
Being part of the national Committee has given me the chance to mingle with JLD members from further afield and gain an insight into what is going on in their local areas, not to mention the fact that my business card collection has also been built up considerably! All in all, being an active member of the JLD is a great opportunity that I would thoroughly recommend anyone to get involved in.
If you would like to find out more about the Junior Lawyers Division please a visit the website: http://communities.lawsociety.org.uk/junior-lawyers or alternatively you can follow us on twitter: @DS_JLD.