As much as it can be exciting changing seats and starting work in a new area of law, it can also feel like starting a new job as you navigate getting to know a new team, new processes and even sitting in a different area of the office! The abrupt change from being in a familiar area of law to starting all over again can be quite a challenge. I have found the best way to overcome this is to resist placing too many expectations on yourself – trainees are here to learn after all.
“When you start a new seat you should get stuck in, say yes to any opportunities that present themselves and try to build a rapport with people in your team.”
Your knowledge of the area of law will grow naturally through the work that you’re given and the meetings you attend. It’s surprising how quickly you can get settled into a new team if you embrace the change!
At B P Collins we get two choices of seat, which means that we get assigned our other two seats depending on availability. Our HR team is great at accommodating choices and they are really flexible. However, sometimes trainees get seats which may not have been their first choice. If this happens it is important to remember that there is something valuable to learn in every seat. A key point is that in a full service law firm, often client matters don’t operate in a vacuum. For example, Private Client work has strong crossovers with Property, such as when clients leave properties in their will or in trust. Corporate sales usually require support from the Employment team and often the Property team if there is land involved.
Making the most of your four rotations, even those which weren’t your favourite seats, will mean that you have a deeper and more varied understanding of the law. It also means that you will always have a contact to refer a client to if they need assistance by another team.
Trainee workload can fluctuate between seats, and sometimes within a seat depending on which area of law you are in. Some seats may be busy throughout, such as Property which tends to have a constant stream of work. Other seats, such as Corporate Commercial might have peaks and troughs in the level of work.
“My advice would be to make the most of any quieter periods by taking the opportunity to read into areas you are interested in.”
Be sure to ask for deadlines when given work by solicitors in your team to better manage your time. It may sound obvious, but always prioritise urgent work! When you’re busy you should try to work as efficiently as you can to stay on top of your to do list. I have found that getting big, complicated pieces of work done in the morning then frees up the afternoon to deal with smaller tasks.
Most teams in the firm have a system whereby you keep everyone updated with how busy you are (usually on a scale of 1-5 or 1-10). This helps partners decide how to distribute the work through the team and means everyone is aware of how much you have on, so you don’t get overloaded (or end up with nothing to do!).
“Everyone knows the training contract isn’t easy, but if it wasn’t challenging, it wouldn’t be as rewarding!”
Everyone faces their own challenges but B P Collins is a supportive environment and if you face something you can’t deal with on your own, the partners, supervisors and HR are always there to help. My advice is to make the most of your training contract, soak up as much information as you can and try to forge strong bonds with the people in your team.
Posted by Jessica Lockett
Jessica previously worked in the property practice group as a paralegal, before starting her training contract with the firm in February 2021.