As I write this article, I am now one week into my role as a newly qualified solicitor in the Personal Injury department here at Farleys.
Over the last week I have had time to reflect on my training contract and it has become clear how many essential lessons I have learned that have set me up for my career as a solicitor, some of which are:
Organisation is key
Given the somewhat unique training contract I experienced (i.e. 6 months in, we faced a global pandemic) it was extremely important to ensure that I was as organised as possible – nothing like being thrown in at the deep end!
From recording my time to ensuring each and every deadline was met, there were many instances where it was vital to ensure I kept everything organised. This is one skill that I have hugely developed over the last 2 years and it really does make life easier.
If you don’t know, ask!
Don’t get me wrong, you cannot expect everything to be handed to you on a plate. You’ll need to make sure you have at least tried to find the answer, but if you really don’t know or are struggling to understand something, ask. There is nothing worse than sitting at your desk stewing on something because you don’t want to ask. However, what you do not want to do is make an avoidable mistake.
Having said that, mistakes are inevitable in such a complex job so if you do make a mistake, fess up! This is easier said than done, especially when you have just moved seats to a new office/department and want to make a good impression but whatever you do, do not try to cover it up. Everyone knows you are a trainee and they will help to fix any mistakes – just remember, most were all trainees once.
You are relied on more than you realise, so be flexible
You cannot always control which seats you are placed in or how much responsibility you will be given in that role, so you must accept that different departments within the firm will take different approaches to the responsibility given to a trainee. Having a can-do attitude and eagerness to learn new skills in your seat will take you a long way in influencing your supervising partners that you can be trusted with a little more responsibility. Your training contract is all about learning new transferable skills which you can take with you as you move across the departments.
Your training contract is a great opportunity to work alongside different solicitors from other offices and departments. I quickly came to realise that my colleagues had a wealth of knowledge and experience in their respective areas of work and were great to learn from. During your various seats around the firm, you are laying the foundations for future working relationships and are relied on a lot throughout your seat for various things, so it is essential to make sure you are a team player, approachable and are always happy to help.
Realising that you cannot (and will not ever) know everything
Although you may have a law degree, an LPC qualification and maybe a little work experience, you will quickly realise at the start of your training contract that you have a lot to learn and there will unlikely be a day goes by when you don’t learn something new. Be a sponge! Soak up all the information, skills and techniques of your senior colleagues. Ask questions, be conscious that you will always have areas of improvement and embrace the challenge that your training contract will bring. Make the most of all the lessons and understand that you will make mistakes (we are all human!).
My training contract was both challenging and rewarding in equal measures. I have learned so much during my training contract over the past 2 years and look forward to continuing my career as a newly-qualified solicitor here at Farleys.