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Trainee Blog: how to hit the ground running in each seat

If you’ve managed to secure a Training Contract, Legal Apprenticeship or Legal Placement Year, congratulations!

Once the excitement subsides, it may be daunting to consider the world of work that awaits you. Fortunately, Michelmores provides its Trainees with a two-week training period involving a range of workshops and sessions , which (as well as arming me with a host of soft skills) provided me with the key piece of advice I needed to hit the ground running and make a good first impression. Here it is…

Before you start each seat, have a 30-odd minute chat with your future supervisor about their preferences and general approach.

The reason? Every individual is different, so having this conversation at the outset eliminates a chunk of the guesswork around how to approach things, and enables you to work in the way that is most helpful to your supervisor from the very start.

Topics you may wish to cover off are as follows:

  • Extent of supervision: The level of responsibility your team can afford you will vary greatly from seat to seat. Your supervisor might want you to run all external emails by them before sending. Alternatively, they may be happy for you to only refer to them if you’re unsure. It’s a good idea to check where your team lands – there’s a reason the responsibility levels vary
  • Touching base: Many supervisors like to have a recurring meeting to give their Trainees the opportunity to raise any questions they may have and discuss any pastoral matters. It is worth finding out if they’d like to do this and if so, how regularly
  • Diary etiquette: Your supervisor might be happy for you to put a meeting in their diary if there’s an urgent matter you need to discuss with them – but it is courteous to check if they are okay with this (and if they have preferred times of day), first. In my experience, supervisors will be happy for you to interrupt them outside of any formal meeting time you may have arranged, especially when you have a pressing question or need a steer from them to complete a task in a timely fashion. But again, by asking if they are happy with this approach – or checking if there’s a time of day during which they’d prefer not to be interrupted – you’ll show them that you are considerate of their time.
  • Practices to avoid: Different teams and individuals will place importance on different things. If your supervisor has any specificities, it’s helpful to know them early so that you can work in the way that’s most helpful and valuable to them
  • Client-specific matters: Some clients may have particular preferences or working practices. Similarly, some clients will have a preferred or sole point of contact at the firm. Being aware of these things will better enable you to provide good and tailored service
  • Broader team matters: Other, more practical questions you may wish to ask might include: Does the team have a precedent bank? What’s the team’s agile working policy? Are there any log ins I’ll need in particular?

Remember, there will always be an element of learning of the job, and no one expects you to approach everything perfectly from the outset. But I hope that the advice above will arm you with the knowledge needed to move confidently into your seat.