Starting as a paralegal is most often the first legal job many of us have after finishing University. It is a great opportunity to put theoretical knowledge to practice and to start to build an idea of what area of law you are interested in.
At B P Collins, paralegals are often our future trainees and there is good reason for this.
Being a paralegal allows you to learn and improve the fundamental skills that are needed to be a successful trainee and ultimately, solicitor. However, there are differences between the roles and the transition from paralegal to trainee can seem daunting to some.
Type of work
As a paralegal, the workload is often primarily administrative in nature, this is essential to help the team run, and you will often be doing the same type of work with the scope for new work more limited. As a trainee, whilst there are still administrative tasks to assist with, the workload consists of much more ‘chargeable’ work and is more varied. This means that you must get used to doing work for the first time and using your prior experience and knowledge to produce an acceptable first draft.
“At B P Collins, every trainee has a supervisor who we have frequent contact with, and we can go to them with any questions we have.”
Changing departments/length of time
One of the biggest changes between being a trainee and paralegal is the length of time you have in a department. I started as a paralegal in Property and was there for a year and three months before moving to Private Client where I was a paralegal for a year and five months. This is in contrast with your training contract seats which are five months. It is important that a trainee makes the most of their time in a team and they can do this by ensuring they are engaging with the team, taking on new work and asking questions when they are unsure.
“It also helps that there will have been other trainees who have done their seat in the department who are able to talk to you about their experiences.”
Ultimately, when you transition from a paralegal to trainee the most important thing is to make the most of your time as two years will fly by. The fee earners within the team will know you are new to the area and will always help with any questions or issues you have.
Posted by Dominic Beirne
Dominic joined B P Collins as a paralegal and started his training contract in March 2022.