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should I, shouldn't I...?

29 December 2014

If you’re reading this and thinking about changing career to become a lawyer, wondering whether it’s a crazy idea, then I have a pretty good idea of how you must be feeling. There is so much to consider. ‘Giving up’ a successful career to start as a trainee solicitor will probably mean taking a drop in salary, but it’s more than that. The comfort you get from knowing your way around a job, the experience that you build up over time, the networks that you’ve worked hard to establish… all seemingly gone in that one day when you pack up your desk for the last time and nervously wait for the first day of your training contract.

In that long, long 2 years after getting the exhilarating phone call: “well done, we’d like to offer you a job as a trainee solicitor”, I had many conversations with myself to check whether I was doing the right thing. Sometimes I wondered if I was being reckless, making such a major change, but mostly I concentrated on the excitement of taking a different direction and shaking it all up. Suddenly, I had no idea what the future would hold!

I’m now halfway through my first seat, which has been long enough to reassure me that it was a good move. At the moment it feels like my experience from the last 10 years, when I worked as a commercial contract manager, has been filed away into temporary storage while I concentrate on developing the practical skills required to be a lawyer. I believe it will eventually all come together to help me develop into a well-rounded solicitor, so it is hopefully less about ‘giving up’ a career and more about changing direction. A change is as good as a rest, they say! Everybody has something different to offer and Browne Jacobson seems to really value this in its trainees and staff. In fact, it’s our diversity and specialisms that differentiate us from other firms.

One thing to note if you are changing career is that, as a trainee, you are all on a level playing field and it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. The level of supervision can be a surprise if you’ve been used to more autonomy in previous jobs. But you quickly learn to value the feedback from your team as it demonstrates the standard you need to reach in order to properly represent the firm. The sooner you adopt the right approach, the sooner you get more responsibility. And then the fun really starts!

We were told in our induction that the legal profession has changed dramatically in the last decade and that firms are constantly under pressure to remain profitable. Browne Jacobson as a firm continues to grow, going from strength to strength, but that is a result of hard work and dedication from every single person that works there. It feels good to be a part of it, and it is an exciting place to be.