What's it like working as a trainee solicitor?

A training contract will have challenging moments: complex points of law and demanding projects. As part of the trainee team, you work together to solve problems and share knowledge.

04 April 2017

By trainee solicitor Owen Jones

A training contract can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Having a large trainee intake goes some way to mitigating the challenge, and enhancing the reward. You can draw on your shared experiences, rely on each other for support and tap into the expanding knowledge networks of the trainee team.

Working as a trainee

How you get involved as a trainee at Burges Salmon depends on a number of factors, including how the particular seat or department operates, business need and capacity, how you work with your supervisor and how you prefer to work as an individual. During the course of a four month seat, a trainee has the flexibility to work exclusively with a few people on key projects, across the department on a variety of matters, or a mixture of the two.

However you choose to work, solicitors across all levels of seniority will request additional trainee assistance on a daily basis. For many departments the trainee team is trusted to manage its own capacity and work load. Trainees will discuss internally who is best placed to take on additional matters with the aim of balancing the workload, ensuring it is allocated fairly and giving every trainee the opportunity to get involved with work that interests them.

The benefit of this system is support – if an imbalance is developing, there are always offers from other trainees to help share the workload.

The importance of teamwork

As a trainee you work with your fellow trainees on a regular basis. In my experience, this is not an environment where trainees are encouraged to compete with one another; instead trainees are committed to working together to support and assist the wider team and succeed together.

A large intake also means that there are a number of trainees sitting across the firm's departments, sectors and specialisms at any one time.

On a cross-departmental project, this is particularly useful.

The trainee team is an internal network of people that you get to know well during the training contract. They are your first point of contact should you need assistance or advice from another department and are a sounding board for ideas, research or questions of law and procedure – not to mention an inside source for valuable advice on choosing your next seat.

Sharing your experience

A training contract will always have challenging moments; with imminent deadlines, complex points of law and demanding projects you need to be proactive and adaptable. As part of the trainee team however, you are sharing these experiences together – problem solving, pooling resources and sharing advice.

Your experience of a training contract is also rooted in your interactions with your fellow trainees. Working and socialising with a trainee team from a variety of backgrounds with a range of hobbies and interests, pushes you try new things – whether it be a new sport, a new way of thinking or even a possible alternative to your favourite local.

The connections you make as a trainee will remain – two years of working together as the trainee team and building relationships both in and out of the office provides the foundations for the development of a strong professional network on qualification and beyond.

Key contact

What's it like working as a trainee solicitor?

This is not an environment where trainees are encouraged to compete with one another; instead trainees are committed to working together to support and assist the wider team.
Owen Jones, Trainee Solicitor

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