Some Top Tips from a First Year Trainee Solicitor

If you’re anything like me, I have no doubt that the journey up to this point has been long and challenging. Now that you’ve actually achieved your primary objective of securing a training contract, how can you prepare yourself for ‘real’ work in the office?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first 8 months as a Trainee Solicitor at Kidd & Spoor and am hoping for more of the same in the year to come. For those yet to start a training contract, I will share a few tips for starting and making the most of your training contract:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • Look for opportunities
  • Play to your strengths and learn what your weaknesses are 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

At
Kidd & Spoor everyone is very approachable and always willing to lend a
hand or provide advice if needed.

It
is very important that you feel comfortable asking questions and although this
may seem daunting at first, it soon becomes second-nature. No-one expects you to
know what you’re doing or where you’re going all of the time, so if you’re
unsure then just ask. It is better to ask someone to clarify what they would
like you to do than waste time (and expense) doing something wrong because you
didn’t ask.

Look for opportunities

People
often say that the more you put into your training contract, the more you’ll
get out.

Opportunities
may not always be immediately obvious – you will sometimes have to look for
them and then be ready to take them when they arise. This may include attending
client meetings, home visits with colleagues or charity events.  Two years
is not a long time. Take every opportunity within that to expand your knowledge
and skills. Don’t wait to be told what to do. If a matter is already yours, take
ownership of it. If it isn’t, work out the next steps, and offer to do them.
Pay attention to your colleagues’ matters and offer to help if there’s
something big or interesting you may be able to get involved with.

Play to your strengths and learn what your weaknesses
are 

From
the outset of your training contract you will be expected to get the law
right for the purposes of a real-life private client rather than an academic
essay. You must also present the law to a real-life client in simple terms rather
than for academic purposes. On top of this you will have to deliver to
deadlines which typically have real implications if missed.

Of course, not everybody is perfect. Mistakes happen and it takes time to build these skills, but to eliminate this risk as far as possible, you should try to play to your strengths and use these to ensure your weaknesses don’t undermine all of the other good work that you do.

Remember that your reputation as a Trainee Solicitor is important when it comes to progressing your career and so you want to portray yourself in the best light possible.