You’ve obtained a law degree (or equivalent) and completed the Legal Practice Course: so you have learnt the theory. The training contract is all about putting this knowledge into practice. Although this may seem daunting, a training contract is exactly what it says on the tin: a two year fixed term contract revolving around your learning and career development. This is a fantastic opportunity to absorb as much information as possible, in an environment specifically designed to build your skills and knowledge in preparation for qualification. It might sound cliché but to a certain extent, this experience is exactly what you make of it.
My 5 top tips for making the most of your training contract are:
Use your Resources
Learn about what your firm can offer you in terms of personal development. Most firms have a library so get to know the librarians; they will be able to help with the many research tasks you will invariably be allocated. Ask about subscriptions to publications relevant to your seat and set up your email alerts for a daily bulletin of the legal highlights.
Talk to Everyone
Knowledge sharing is the process of reciprocal learning through discussion with colleagues. Talk to people often and show interest in what they’re interested in, and be interesting yourself! Every conversation is an opportunity; whether to make a new work friend, generate a potential cross-sale or referral, or to learn more about a different specialism.
Get Involved with every Opportunity
The time passes much faster than you’ll realise, so try and take advantage of every available opportunity without overwhelming yourself. For example, in my first seat in Transactional Real Estate I have been involved in drafting complex commercial leases, completing research tasks on very specific ecclesiastical matters and preparing reports on title for purchases that were worth millions. Outside of my seat, I have organised the Michelmores’ annual charity bazaar, networked at the Property Developer’s Club, attended many different training sessions and been out for several events with my team. Don’t forget that a training contract is a unique opportunity to get to know the whole firm, as well as your designated team, so try not to say ‘no’ to anything – you never know who you will meet or what you will learn.
Consolidate your Learning
Your training contract record is a good place to reflect on what you’ve learnt and also to highlight any glaring gaps which need to be addressed. Aim to fill this in regularly and keep it updated. During my first seat I compiled a folder full of useful information, including practical tips on how to complete certain tasks. This means that next time I won’t make the same mistakes, and can do the task more efficiently.
Ask for feedback
Your work will be checked by your supervisor throughout your training contract. Ask for feedback wherever possible, write it down and reflect upon it. Don’t worry about the amount of red pen – the best way to learn is to make mistakes. Keep your marked up version and refer back to it when you need.
The support system for trainees at Michelmores is very thorough; you will have trainee liaison sessions with your peers, meetings with Human Resources and meetings with your supervisor. These provide ample opportunities for you to discuss your progress, and also for you to request experience in areas you are interested in. Remember that a training contract is a reward for your hard work, so shape it in the way you want and enjoy it.