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Reflections on my first four months as a Trainee Solicitor

Starting your training contract is an exciting time – after all, you are finally in the job that you have spent years working towards! That said, starting any new job can be a daunting experience and it is normal to feel nervous.

Four months into my first seat, here are some of my tips to make the most of your training contract.

Ask questions

When I was asking for advice ahead of starting my training contract, this is one of the most common tips that I was given. It is also one of the most important. Asking questions is the best way to learn and fill gaps in your understanding. Nobody expects you to know everything, and it is much better to ask for help or clarification than to sit there in silence.

There are always people you can ask for help, such as your supervisor, your wider team, the Legal Support Assistants, and the trainees who have been in the seat before you. This can range from help with carrying out a task for the first time to help with posting a letter!

When you start your seat, you will likely get involved in matters which started before you joined. It is always a good idea to be proactive and try to find the answer yourself first or make suggestions (even if you are not sure that you are right), rather than just waiting to be told the answer.

Go into the office

Michelmores has an Agile Working Policy, meaning that we can spend time flexibly, working remotely as well as in the office. The amount of time that you need to be in the office varies team by team and depends on the work that you are doing. However, as a Trainee, I try to come into the office as much as possible.

Being in the office is the ideal place to soak up knowledge and ask ad-hoc questions – you learn just by watching and listening to those around you! It also makes it easier to get to know your team and to meet people from across the wider Firm.

Be organised

As a Trainee, you will likely be given work by different members of the team and become involved in a variety of matters. It is crucial that you remain organised and on top of your matters, even when you have quite a few plates spinning at once.

Keeping a to-do list helps you to structure your day and ensures that nothing gets forgotten. Personally, I like to keep a handwritten to-do list, rather than an electronic one, as I find it therapeutic to manually tick a task when it is complete! However, it is important to be flexible and, if you receive urgent tasks, you will likely need to re-structure your to-do list and re-prioritise your work.

The Outlook calendar can also act as a helpful prompt, and you should diarise any deadlines (as well as reminders for deadlines) to make sure that they are not missed.

Another tip is to make notes when you are discussing a matter with a colleague. This makes sure that you will remember exactly what you have been asked to do, as well as any key background information, even if you cannot start the work straight away.

Get involved in things outside of work

At Michelmores, there are many opportunities to get involved in things outside of work. This is a great way to bond with your fellow trainees, meet people from across the Firm and develop transferrable skills.

So far, I have helped to organise a Real Estate breakfast for colleagues across the department and run the raffle at the Exeter office’s Festive Fundraiser. I have also been involved in the Empowering Girls project, which you can read more about here, Michelmores hosts over 30 students at workplace event to open up access to law opportunities.

Be enthusiastic

Although a two-year training contract may seem like a long time, but it will fly by! You should make the most of every opportunity and be enthusiastic about the work that you are doing. After all, every task, even those that are administrative or non-chargeable, is an opportunity to learn. If you have capacity to do more work or have an interest in a particular area, let your team know. This will help to arm you with the knowledge and skills that you need to take the next step in your career.