Transitioning seats during the Training Contract will be a new, exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking experience for many. It’s an opportunity to get exposure to different types of work, build further relationships with colleagues in a Firm and develop new skills. It can almost feel like starting a new job every six months but, thankfully, Michelmores adopts a joined-up approach to support us. I have now gone through my first seat move and below are a few things I have picked up so far.
Apply and adapt what you already know
Your existing skills and ways of working will undoubtedly get you to do a good job: communication skills so you can convey a message to a fellow colleague or a client, analytical skills when dissecting a piece of research and so on. Be prepared to continue using these same skills but be open to adapting your ways of working to suit your new “job”. Whilst in Contentious Probate, I worked on bigger pieces of work and on matters that would usually last longer than the six-month seat (this is the nature of a litigious seat). At the start of most days, I would work on my to do list and break down the bigger pieces of work that needed to be actioned. However, once I transitioned to Transactional Real Estate (hint: the clue is in the name!), I had to quickly adapt to an increased number of matters and tasks and deal with different organisations such as the HM Land Registry and the HMRC for Stamp Duty Land Tax returns. I had to let go of my daily tidy handwritten list and rely on a range of tools to assist me to keep on top of my work e.g. action list on Outlook and setting calendar appointments for actions and follow-ups.
Talk, meet people and then talk some more
Use the support network around you to help you – your supervisor will most certainly be your first port of call but immerse yourself in the wider team and take opportunities to learn from others which will facilitate your own learning. Where the team is spread across different offices, arrange informal virtual catch ups over coffee or meet in person if possible. At Michelmores, fellow colleagues are understanding of the process and have been very open and approachable whenever I needed to double-check (or triple-check) questions and this has been paramount towards my development.
Trainees also benefit from the MiVoice network where we can talk on a confidential basis with the Firm’s recently qualified solicitors who have gone through the process not too long before.
Don’t forget about your fellow Trainees!
Leaning on your fellow Trainees during your Training Contract will prove to be indispensable – from random questions on things covered during your first week of induction to more social affairs involving some fun. Will Dyer covered some useful points earlier in the year which you can find here
. Do not be afraid to heavily rely on the Trainee that has handed the baton over and similarly be prepared to be that crutch to someone in those first few weeks. Handover notes aside, this will be the opportunity to make the experience as seamless as possible as you are able to get the real insider tips.
Enjoy the exciting ride
Embrace the experience for what it is and know that it all forms part of your development – even when you feel that you are not as efficient as you learn a new subject area. Whilst I developed my written skills in my first seat, my time management and organisation skills are taking centre stage in my current seat. Testing and improving those transferable skills is a key part of the journey to becoming a well-rounded and successful lawyer.
Ultimately, though it might feel challenging in the beginning as you transition, the support you receive at Michelmores will enable you to make the most of your time.