Bearing in mind how competitive is the market for training contracts, it is natural to assume that trainees, like applicants, are competitors. The reality is that though we sometimes aspire to goals that can’t be shared (say, a particular seat or role) trainees are first and foremost a team. Since commencing my training, I have relied on all the resources available through the firm, but none more than the ‘2021 Cohort’ group chat. With that in mind, I offer new trainees four reasons to keep in touch:
Collectively, your cohort will pass through every department and most teams in the firm. Knowing where your fellow trainees sit and roughly what they’re doing is valuable information that allows you to access the expertise of other teams.
Many solicitors will tell you that they found their specialism while pursuing something else. If you’re trying to keep an open mind about what type of law to practice, it is definitely worth comparing notes about your experiences in whichever teams you work. Especially, describe the work you are typically involved in, and the skills that you have used or acquired. This also gives you a head start when it comes to seat rotation. Each team has a different dynamic; learning how your next team operates is always worthwhile.
The importance of networking, both to the success of your firm and to your own professional development, will be impressed upon you throughout your training (and, no doubt, your careers). For some of you, the trainees of your cohort may represent your first legal network. This means more than connections on LinkedIn and followers on Twitter. Learning where your fellow trainees come from, what their goals are, and how you can support them, might be considered ‘step 1’ to developing a truly beneficial and rewarding professional network.
A final point is that trainees understand what you’re feeling and where you’re going. You’ll make a lot of new starts in your first few months, especially if you’re changing your address along with your job. It’s a challenging transition and time taken to catch-up with your cohort should not always be the last item on your to-do list. This is especially true if you find yourself working from home, where contact with colleagues may be less frequent or spontaneous. So, new trainees, why keep in touch? You’ll know more; you’ll be better prepared to choose and begin your seats; you’ll have the benefit of a legal network of future lawyers; and you’ll have a team to spur you on (or bail you out!) from day one of your career.