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how to survive your first week as a trainee

21 August 2018

The first week of any new role can be daunting, not least when you gear up to start your training contract. As I come up to the end of my first year at Browne Jacobson, I have tried to summarise below my key advice for approaching your first week of your training contract.

Be happy, confident and prepared

Undoubtedly there is every chance that your first week may feel overwhelming and tiring, and at times as if you have been dropped in at the deep end. Do not let this knock your confidence – it is important to remember that you are here for a reason and that your teams will be aware that you are a first year, seat 1, week 1 trainee! Smile (people really like seeing a happy face), take your time, put in the effort and ask questions wherever possible. It will often take a while for you to feel totally confident in what you are doing.

Listen and learn

The LPC does not mark the end of your learning - far from it. I would say the most important thing you can do in your throughout you training is to listen as carefully as possible to any instructions passed to you. If asked to do some drafting, consider asking for a precedent – it helps to see the style and manner your colleagues have approached similar advice with previously.

If a client has asked for some swift advice on a specific point of law, ensure your advice is just that. Try not to release you inner Tolstoy and draft 'Law & Peace' (utterly dreadful pun - I am truly sorry), attempting to squeeze in as many case names as you can recall from your second year tort module. Always keep focussed on what you have been asked to do and if in doubt – do not be scared to ask a colleague for advice.

Get involved

As a new trainee, you will find a lot of events going on in your first week on the job. No doubt there will be welcome events put on by your team, by your office as a whole, and also for your cohort of trainees. These events are always very informal and provide you with a great opportunity to meet those around you as you undertake your training at the firm.

Importantly – take time to have lunch and get to know your fellow trainees wherever possible. Your training contract is not the Hunger Games, and your fellow trainees will be one of the best support networks you could ask for in these first two years. If you are having a tough day – it is likely someone else is going through, or has been through the same.

Take reading time if possible

If you find a lull in your workload and your team currently has no further work for you - do not panic, but take the opportunity to start researching! Whilst every seat is unique, there will some general themes to the kind of work you will be doing. Taking time to read practices guides, statutory guidance and case law will assist you when you finally get round to tasks in these areas. Importantly -keep good notes to refer back to!

Relax and enjoy!

Teams are always excited to have a new trainee and will be looking forward to getting to know you (as well as passing on some of their work!). There will be so many brilliant opportunities once you get going, so try and relax in your first week, and take every day as it comes.