It will be one of your biggest challenges but if used in the right way, what you learn during your training contract will stay with you through the rest of your career. These five tips should steer you in the right direction and help you keep your cool.
1. Know your firm. Take time to see how it works, its culture and its employees. Fit in and don’t disrupt the status quo, but do make yourself known and try to make a positive difference.
2. Use your initiative. Now is the time to exercise your resourcefulness and gain a flair for prioritising. To-do lists will be your new best friend – and allow some time each day for the “unexpected”. But just a word of caution – use your initiative responsibly and check with your supervisor before you take action, if in doubt.
3. Be a “yes” person. You are only human, but particularly say yes to anything that will gain you client contact, advocacy experience or research practice. Whilst gaining the skills of a solicitor takes time, practising these skills early really is invaluable to your learning curve.
4. Attend networking events – lots of them. Be confident, share stories with other professionals and enjoy yourself. The networking-business part will develop naturally.
5. Keep up to date with legal news and current affairs. You joined the legal profession knowing that law is ever-changing and dynamic…and it always will be. Pick up a newspaper on your lunch break, research updates and debate with your colleagues – it will show how much you really know!
So go out there, be a sponge and learn as much as you can. Allow your training contract to prepare you for anything that the law throws at you – now and in the rest of your career.
Training in the law is different from studying at college or university. It is as much about initiative and organisation as legal acumen. For example, you’ll have to deal with a large amount of admin – filling in timesheets, and possibly fielding a large volume of calls and e-mails. You’ll need to expect the unexpected – queries and problems will come out of the blue, and there won’t be a standard answer for every query you get. Don’t be fazed, stay cool and see it as a challenge.