A trainee’s checklist

Whether it’s work experience or starting out as a trainee, it can feel like there’s a lot to juggle in order to stand out and succeed, and sometimes it’s easy to forget some of the key fundamentals. Whilst the below is by no means an exhaustive list, keeping these skills and qualities in mind is sure to put you well on your way to making a good impression and enjoying the experience to the full.

  1. Build relationships

As a trainee or work experience student, you’ll need to quickly build relationships with your colleagues and, if you’re fortunate enough to gain the exposure, clients.

The quicker you can form these relationships, the sooner you’ll start to reap the benefits – the sooner you integrate into the team the quicker you’ll get a range of work from different colleagues, the more comfortable you’ll feel going to them with questions, and, importantly, enjoy the working environment. The quicker you build a rapport with clients, the sooner you’ll enjoy assisting them with their goals.

“The quicker you build a rapport with clients, the sooner you’ll enjoy assisting them with their goals”.

  1. Be adaptable

This may seem like an obvious one, but you’ll need to adapt quickly to the constantly changing environment you find yourself in as a trainee, and when undertaking work experience it’s not unusual to move around the departments of a firm.

As you change seats as a trainee, or departments on work experience, not only will your work change, but also your colleagues, the clients and often the pace – sometimes it can feel like starting a new job all over again.

It’s important to remember all the skills you’ve taken from your studies and previous work experience (legal and non-legal) which will no doubt assist you with this as you go through your training contact or work experience.

  1. Get involved

Throw yourself into as many opportunities as you can; even those that might appear a bit daunting! This applies to all the opportunities which will present themselves to a trainee, and if you’re lucky, whilst on work experience. Whether its attending the latest firm social event, a networking event, or offering to help out on a piece of work on an area you’ve never even heard of before, the more you get involved, the more you will learn and take away from the experiences, and the more you’ll integrate yourself into the firm.

“HR are quite open to you popping in for a catch up and talking about your preferences”.

  1. Keep an open mind

Whilst it’s always good to have a sense of direction, putting all of your eggs in one basket can come back to bite you. It’s common to gain an idea of what area you think you might want to practice in from your studies, but the reality can be quite different. When it comes to selecting seats, or opting for experience in certain departments, by all means choose those you are most interested in, but keep an open mind and be prepared for your preferences to change! Fortunately at B P Collins trainees aren’t expected to set their seat choices in stone at the outset of the training contract and HR are quite open to you popping in for a catch up and talking about your preferences.

  1. Think commercially

Whatever work you’re undertaking, you need to think commercially. This doesn’t mean going back to your supervisor with a business plan to transfer Mr Smith’s company into the new Amazon; this means having an awareness of the client’s specific situation and what their interests are. This is vital and will apply whether your client is a multi-million pound company or whether it’s an individual.

Posted by Hedley Tipton


Hedley joined the property team at B P Collins as a paralegal in July 2016
started his training contract in July 2017. His role is to provide assistance to
partners and other lawyers in various practice groups.