My First Year As A Trainee
Georgina Went reflects on her first year as a trainee solicitor…
I have just finished my first year as a trainee at Lennons Solicitors, which I spent in our dispute resolution department. Reflecting on my time at Lennons so far, it would certainly be true to say that I have been involved in a wide variety of work and have been kept continuously on my toes. The best word to describe a day in my life as a trainee solicitor would be ‘unpredictable’. Every day is different to the last, which can lead to some panic stricken moments!
In the first years of your legal career, a training contract is the holy grail of all jobs. In reality, a training contract is a job which has its ups and downs, just like any other. During the first year of my training contract I have learnt so many new skills and I have gained so much confidence. I have been given so many opportunities which have enabled me to mould into a junior lawyer. I can honestly say that I have learnt one new thing every day for the last year, some bigger than others, but all important in contributing to the end goal- becoming a qualified solicitor.
I have been given a huge amount of responsibility during the first year of my training contract. At Lennons, trainees really are treated as junior lawyers, taking on their own caseload quite quickly. I have been given the opportunity to carry out my own advocacy at the County Court whilst also attending a number of other interesting Court hearings, run my own mediations, negotiations and round table meetings in different areas of civil litigation such as building disputes, property litigation and contractual breaches. Most importantly, since day one of my training I have been given the opportunity to communicate directly with clients, carrying out my own client meetings throughout the last year. These have all been invaluable experiences setting me up for my future career.
The autonomy I have been granted has been consistently matched with regular meetings and support from my Director. Having the right level of support has enabled me to have confidence in growing my knowledge, skills, workload and allowing me to develop at a quicker pace. There is a huge sense of approachability throughout the firm, which means there is always someone on hand to help in those moments of need, be it another trainee, solicitor or director of the firm. I really believe that no amount of legal knowledge will make you the perfect trainee. The most important thing is your ability to be malleable and prioritising your learning.
Something I have always heard from other trainees or newly qualified solicitors when I was looking for a training contract was how daunting the transition is between being a trainee solicitor and becoming newly qualified. It is inevitable that this transition will be a step up but even with just my first year of training complete, I have been given enough responsibility and experience to bridge that gap, leaving me with a sense of excitement for the transition, rather than dread.
So far, I have completed all of my core modules in my professional skills course, which included Advocacy and communication skills, Client Care and Professional Standards and Financial and Business Skills modules. I found all three of these courses a great opportunity to network with fellow trainees to share experiences. The advocacy module is extremely interactive and allows you to practice your skills in public speaking, questioning and preparation. This module gave me the confidence to begin my own advocacy for applications in the County Court. The financial and business skills module is challenging with an exam at the end of your third day testing your knowledge on investments and legal compliance. I felt that this course widened my general financial knowledge and will certainly help me throughout my career and my personal life.
You will note that I have mentioned some panic stricken moments and the inevitable ‘downs’ of any job… the best thing about being a trainee is that you are allowed to make mistakes and actually the downs are easily forgotten because they each become something new that you have learnt and so you only need to remember what is essential to do differently next time.
I have now ventured over into our commercial and property departments for the remainder of my training and I am extremely excited to explore an entirely new area of law.