Being social as a trainee in the time of Coronavirus

When I received my training contract offer and first started to visualise what life at a law firm might entail when away from my desk, I envisioned impromptu watercooler chats, regular lunchtime or Friday afternoon catch ups with colleagues and seasonal firmwide gatherings. It is fair to say it has been slightly different…

I started my training contract at B P Collins in September 2020. The first lockdown had been and gone, temporarily forgotten amidst the constant indigestion August brought with the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme and rediscovering life’s sweeter treats. My first week was mainly in the office, where there were reduced numbers attending to maintain social distancing and hygiene standards. Some of us trainees even managed to fit in a lunch trip to a local restaurant!

However, working from home soon became the new norm again and has been ever since. While working from home, by its nature, reduces interactions with colleagues, it has not frustrated getting to know others.

“We have all made every attempt to counteract the obvious limitations and, in some ways, this has encouraged us to be more proactive and consistent in keeping in touch.”

My first seat was in the firm’s Property department – the largest team in the firm. As a department, there have been regular lunchtime quizzes to lighten the mood, and we all enjoyed facing the challenges of a virtual escape room for our Christmas social.

Being part of such a large team, I was not on my own. I was one of two trainees, and there were also two paralegals. We all caught up daily to bounce questions and ideas of each other, and once a week we jumped on a call together to have some fun or pick each other up over the course of the winter.

In the same vein, the trainees have organised regular catchups to keep in touch with what each other is up to and what things are going on other teams, to replicate all those casual conversations missed from not being in the office.

“The firm has also come together regularly for firm updates, and B P Collins’ friendly atmosphere is not lost over Zoom!”

We recently had the firm’s annual quiz, where we participated in teams of five or six and discussed our answers in breakout rooms before joining the main room at the end of each round. The evening was very good fun!

I have recently moved to the firm’s Corporate department, where I am the only trainee and there are no paralegals. However, the team has been friendly and welcoming, and it is safe to say that I don’t feel isolated. If anything, the fact that everyone is working remotely has made it easier for me to click a button and keep in touch with my friends in other teams.

I look forward to being able to socialise as we used to as soon as possible but, in the meantime, there are plenty of shared experiences to enjoy together from afar.

Posted by Callum Hopkins

Callum began his training contract with B P Collins in September 2020. His role is to provide assistance to partners and other fee earners in the practice group he is currently placed in.