Starting your training contract is always an uncertain, albeit exciting time. So that you can make the best of the opportunities to learn and work in new teams, looking after your wellbeing – both physical and mental is essential.
I have put together a few top tips for us solicitors-to-be on how to boost our wellbeing as we embark on some of the most important years of our fledgeling legal career.
When applying to law firms, high-quality work and equality were key considerations for me. Working in a fully supportive environment that demonstrates a real interest in trainee progression was also paramount in my decision. Michelmores really stood out as a firm that had a genuine and tangible dedication to support their trainees.
This included a comprehensive range of seats, fully involved mentors and the keen interest of the most senior people in the process. This meant that on starting my training contract, the feelings of excitement and eagerness to get started far outweighed those of stress and anxiety. Over the past four months at Michelmores, my colleagues and I have received two gifts – the first a gift voucher for a hamper and the second a plant and mister to mark the one-year anniversary of lockdown. It’s little things like these that show how much senior management cares for all staff, make a huge difference to motivation and confirmed to me why I chose Michelmores. I would strongly encourage budding solicitors to feature a dedication to trainee support and progression highly on their ‘must-have’ firm attributes.
Get to know your fellow trainees! Create a Whatsapp group, organise weekly catch-ups and do not be afraid to ask silly questions – they are going through the exact process as you and no one will be able to empathise better than them.
Build strong connections within your team, learn from everyone and have a genuine interest to get to know them. My first seat in Tax, Trusts and Succession was a great example of this. Learning from a talented team of lawyers is a fantastic way to grow your confidence and morale as well as professional expertise.
Get fully involved in firm initiatives. – The trainees at Michelmores trainees were presented with an opportunity to create a firm-wide wellbeing initiative, ‘Making Strides for Wellbeing’, which encouraged us to step outside the home/office to walk as many miles as we could for one month in aid of our Nominated Charity, The Charlie Waller Trust. The Trust does extremely important work in raising mental health awareness. As a firm, we walked over 12,000 miles and the initiative instilled a sense of competition, support and collaboration. This initiative reiterated the importance of choosing a firm that prioritises support for, and confidence in, new joiners as part of its training strategy.
In the first few months of a training contract, it is all too easy to sit in front of your computer screen from 8 am-6 pm without moving. Of course, you want to make a good impression and dedicate yourself to your work but it has been proven that productivity increases when taking regular breaks and breathing fresh air. Take a break over lunch and get outside. You will see and feel the benefits, both in quality of work and clarity of mind. In the office, these breaks will happen organically throughout the day by chatting with colleagues and walking around the office. It is important to emulate this if you are working at home. Allowing yourself time out (whether you are working in the office or at home) will help you to be a more authentic, calm and motivated ‘you’ when it comes to work.
So – get stuck in! Enjoy meeting new people, stay calm and do not be afraid to pencil in some time for yourself.