Being a trainee was great! You're the new kid, just starting out. You're allowed to find your feet, have a little extra time and are given a bit of slack. You might even be afforded the benefit of the doubt, occasionally.
On the whole, we are expected to work hard, be diligent, manage our work load and try not to insult clients, colleagues or Judges. You should try and show a bit of initiative here and there - and even "commercial awareness" (knowing that things cost money and that client's also have things to do, other than speaking to their lawyers).
B P Collins' trainees get nights out too - we actually have a trainee budget that can be splurged on beer, burgers and the like. It's all good team bonding stuff.
Alright, it's not that easy. It's hard work and there's a steep learning curve. You can't just put your feet up and expect everything to be great.
Trainees are expected to know the law and how to apply it. At B P Collins I've had the benefit of great client contact from the outset and been given responsibility for important matters. Clients rely on you to know what's going on – you're often their first port of call. Even if your answer is "I should ask my supervisor about that one", it definitely keeps you on your toes and you feel like you actually matter. Those burgers and beers are well-earned.
Towards the end of your two years you might even start feeling comfortable. You might even be "ready" for qualification.
But then you qualify.
The invites to those trainee events dry up, the social budget goes and you're actually expected to make your own friends.
It's time to demonstrate that you know exactly what costs how much, why, and whether that satisfies your detailed "cost-benefit analysis" that you've carried out and put onto the file (with an appropriately coloured tab flagging it, of course).
Alright, it's not that bad. The way our training seat rotations work (four seats of five months, and then a final four month seat in your qualifying practice group) means that I've had the benefit of spending a good amount of time in the litigation practice before I qualify there. It has allowed me to settle in, build my case load, get to know the ongoing cases and work with my new supervising partner. I've even learnt a few things and managed to broaden my experience.
The firm has also got an active social life; last week we gave a local professionals group a "jolly good thrashing" at cricket, and the football fixtures start in September. Then there's the firm drinks, the annual Easter egg hunt, and the B P Collins quiz for those who are less sportily-inclined.
Most importantly, I'm a Solicitor of
England and now; an officer of the Senior Courts (thank you very much). But best of all, now I get to boss those pesky trainees around (milk, one sugar – thanks). Wales
Posted by Simon Hall, trainee in the Litigation and Dispute resolution practice group.
Simon started his training contract in January 2012 and his experience includes working on shareholder and director disputes, contractual disputes, personal insolvency and consumer claims.