work experience

Caring for your mental health as a Trainee Solicitor

Life as a Trainee Solicitor can be taxing. Not only do you have to adapt to deal with deadlines, but you also have to get to grips with a potentially new area of law and understand the clients that your team works for and the matters they are dealing with. Just as you start to feel as though you are settled, it then comes the time that you rotate to your next seat and move to a brand new team. Because of this, it is particularly important that Trainees are vigilant, to ensure they are looking after themselves so as not to burn out before they have begun!

As a first seat Trainee at Michelmores, I want to share my top tips in ensuring that you are looking after your mental health as well as some of the resources offered by Michelmores to ensure you feel fully supported inside and outside of work.

  1. Connecting with other Trainees

It is so important to reach out to other Trainees in your cohort as they are almost definitely in the same position. Sharing any concerns with them can ease the burden that you will be carrying around with you and make the Trainee process feel much less daunting. Even though you may all be spread across different departments – you are in it together!

As a first year Trainee, it can also be very beneficial to reach out to Trainees who are in their second year. With an extra year of experience under their belts, they can often provide moral support and practical help as they have often experienced the same challenges as you and overcome them.

At Michelmores, we have a team of dedicated Wellbeing Champions that are committed to promoting positive wellbeing. This team contains people from across all of our offices and all aspects of the business. You may want to reach out to a Wellbeing Champion as they can always signpost you to useful resources and benefits and are open to chatting through any issues you may be experiencing.

  1. Maintaining a good work life balance

As a Trainee it is important to strike the correct work life balance. Whilst it is important to produce high quality work and make a good impression on your team, it is often the case that you will produce your best work when you are well rested and enjoying your work.

The key to managing this is to have open conversations with your supervisor and members of your team. They can help you to build the skills that you need to effectively prioritise work and maintain a good to do list. Having these skills is going to help you to create a positive work life balance.

Another important aspect of life as a Trainee is ensuring that you are filling your evenings and weekends with things that you enjoy and that allow you to relax. Michelmores offers a variety of clubs which allow you to connect with different people across the firm with whom you share a passion. At the Exeter office, there are thriving cycling and running clubs and the opportunity to join the corporate netball league in the Bristol office. It is important to remember that a career in law is a marathon and not a sprint, so it is vital to keep up hobbies to ensure you are looking after yourself both mentally and physically.

  1. Creating a structured routine

It can be hard, particularly at the beginning of a seat when you are new to the area and the matters, to find the time to do everything on your schedule. When I have found myself feeling under pressure, the most beneficial thing to combat this has been something which might seem counterintuitive! I found that taking a step back and taking time to properly format a list of what I had to do helped me to articulate where to direct my time. This meant I spent less time flicking between tasks and was able to properly dedicate chunks of my day to tasks when they needed attention. This can be a hard skill to master, and I am by no means perfect with this, but again, talking to your peers can help!

I started creating schedules and to do lists in a notebook and on post it notes but quickly realised that having these on my laptop was going to be very beneficial so that it was always with me wherever I was working. I use the ‘Sticky Notes’ application on my laptop but know colleagues that prefer to have an Excel spreadsheet or a table so it is definitely personal preference!

Concluding Thoughts

Ultimately, the things that will help you to care for your mental health as a Trainee are subjective and should be personal to what you feel you need. However, I hope that the three strategies and topics I have discussed above can start to help signpost you to some of the options available at Michelmores and in general.