Tuesday, 1 September 2015

As the saying goes - time flies...

After two years of being a trainee, I’ve finally qualified as a solicitor! It's the perfect time to reflect on my training contract here at B P Collins and give an insight into my experiences.

When I started in September 2013, I was repeatedly told that two years would “fly by”. I didn’t think it would, as two years sounds like a long time. But like anything, whether it’s three years at university or a Man v Food-style eating challenge, we have a tendency to split big tasks into manageable chunks. And with a training contract, moving to new practice groups every few months can feel like you’re starting a new job each time.

Each practice group has new work, new colleagues, new clients and different ways of doing things. Some are open plan, others individual offices. Far from daunting, I found this really refreshing.

“When you think of a training contract as five seats, rather than two years, it really does fly by.”

I can never say I got bored or even too comfortable, and I was always kept on my toes (Michael Jackson would have been proud).

Let's start at the beginning as a fresh-faced trainee in my first seat - property. I very much enjoyed property; I actually think it should be a compulsory seat for trainee solicitors, whichever firm you're in. It's amazingly pervasive as property-related issues crop up in nearly every area of law.

My time in property was also the most eye-opening. I was thrown into the deep end as the practice group was very busy at the time, and I also had the benefit of returning for a second seat later in my contract.

Upon joining, I quickly grasped the nature of residential and commercial sales and purchases, working on commercial leases on behalf of both the tenant and landlord and all manner of Land Registry applications.

“In my view, property is the best example of working independently.”

Of course, assistance was always available whenever needed, but I enjoyed using my initiative to progress a transaction. There are excellent opportunities for client contact and you would often be a client's first port of call.   

Corporate and commercial (CoCom) was my second seat. I always enjoyed corporate work, having opted for the private acquisitions elective on the LPC and, back in May 2014, I wrote a blog about my seat in CoCom. I met fascinating business people and assisted in a wide range of transactions, including acting for a 3D modelling and printing company in its share sale, advising yacht and rowing clubs in their tax/charity statuses, and amending manufacturing and licensing agreements concerning a global film franchise.

If ever you want a great insight into the formation of companies, their regulatory requirements and how businesses run, then CoCom is an excellent seat to do so. I also saw the collaboration between solicitors in several practice groups working on a single corporate transaction.

I then went back to property for my third seat before completing my training contract with two seats in litigation and dispute resolution. My time here was split between property litigation and general civil litigation. By this time, I was seen as an 'experienced' trainee ("where's my walking stick?!") and therefore had a brilliant level of responsibility, often handling smaller pieces of litigation on my own or being given sole responsibility of a substantial task within larger, more complex proceedings.

In property litigation, I assisted the supervising fee earner in a claim at the First-Tier Tribunal of the Property Chamber involving leaseholders of 36 residential properties and our client as landlord/freeholder (which ties back into the importance of a seat in property!). In general litigation I had a hugely varied workload with, for example, contested probate claims, contractual disputes and unfair prejudice petitions.

It was general litigation where I decided to qualify and (luckily!) the practice group was able to keep me and fellow trainee Rebecca Mitchell as newly-qualified solicitors. Litigation seems to suit me.

“I enjoy assisting clients in resolving disputes they or their businesses may have, to try and think outside the box with the best solution you can find and the excitement of litigation's twists and turns.”

Your training contract, wherever it is, is likely to be career-defining. I learnt not to see it as a long journey to qualification, but to consider each seat as a new stage, or even a new job. Enjoy it while it lasts – it'll fly by.

Posted by Rajiv Malhotra, newly qualified associate in the litigation and dispute resolution practice group.

Having graduated with LLB (Hons) from the University of Birmingham before completing the LPC at BPP Law School, Rajiv completed his training contract with B P Collins. Upon qualification, he joined the litigation and dispute resolution team as an associate in September 2015.