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From legal assistant to trainee solicitor...

15 November 2013

Having worked at Browne Jacobson LLP for two years I managed to secure a training contract for September 2013. I waited a year until the training contract started and it went extremely quickly. I was quite nervous about starting my training contract in a firm that I had worked at for three years and I think I put quite a bit of pressure on myself.

I found out who was already working at the firm as a legal assistant with a training contract offer and we met up once or twice to have lunch and met after work for a drink.

September 2013 arrived. Setting off for work on my first day began just like any other day. The people I met on the train were familiar, I knew the building and there were familiar faces around the firm. But I felt the nervousness creep up on me as soon as I stepped through the doors of the firm.

You spend the first two weeks of your training contract with your peers going through an induction process together and the following week we all had our PSC course together. This time was invaluable in terms of giving us time to build friendship and create a support network for one another. There was also an opportunity to ‘bond’ with the second year trainees completing a community action project together (in my case digging over an allotment for a primary school – in the rain)!

However, having previously run a caseload of my own and being used to manage my own files and my own workflow I found the transition into being a trainee a little odd. My first seat, the seat I am currently in, is Commercial Property Health. The team here were very friendly and supportive from the word go, easing me into the world of property. At first I felt frustrated, I wanted to be able to hit the ground running and just be able to automatically do the work I was given with no errors or questions. I remember being asked to read a lease on my first few days within the department, after reading the lease I asked my supervisor what they would like me to do with the lease. Their response was ‘nothing in particular, I just want you to absorb the contents and start to get a feel for the type of leases we work with here. If you have any questions about the lease please just ask’. This conversation will stay with me throughout my training contract because for me it sets out the difference between being a paralegal and being a trainee.

No question is too simple to ask and your supervisor is there to support you, to assist your learning and to help you get the most out of your seat that you can. On top of this you have the support of another 15 trainees who have been through or are going through a similar experience. The truth of it is that the point of the training contract is to learn, absorb the actions, conversations and ways of doing things that you see around you, having a go at a piece of work and getting it wrong (maybe even having another go and getting it wrong again)!