The last 12 months seem to have passed by in the blink of an eye and I cannot quite believe that I am now at the half-way point of my training contract! It seems like only yesterday that I was full of excitement and nerves walking into Woodfines as a fresh-faced, first year trainee with no idea what lay ahead of me. The first week was a whirlwind including an induction, training and a whole host of new names to learn, before being introduced to the team in my first seat.
This year we welcome two first year trainees to Woodfines and I look forward to meeting them at their induction next week. As second year trainees, we are currently planning an induction session full of useful tips and hints of how to make the most of a training contract. I remember during our induction we were told ‘you get out of a training contract what you put in’ and I do not think truer words were ever spoken.
My first year has been a busy one in two contentious seats and I have been fortunate to work directly with every member of the team in both. This has provided for a great training experience as you are exposed to so many years of experience, different styles of practice and areas of law that fee earners specialise in. I have found this helps to develop your own style and to choose methods of working which suit you best.
Starting your training contract or moving seats can be daunting; towards the end of your seat you have probably just started to get to grips with the law in your department and then, before you know it, it is time to start again. I find it helps to reacquaint yourself with the area before joining the department. If you are moving to a new area of law you have not studied before, I recommend finding out what the department’s day to day work involves and reading around the area. There is no need to panic, you do not need to be the master of all and you will not be expected to know the answer to every question. There will be times when it is important to acknowledge your limitations and ask for help. There is a vast range of experience and expertise within the firm and it is important to remember that if you need help, you can ask. Asking the right questions is a good habit to get into and fee earners are always willing to talk things through with you.
At times it can be tempting to want to hurry along your training contract, but as a trainee you are in a privileged position. Not only do you have your whole career ahead of you, you are encouraged to get involved in all aspects of the firm and experience as much as you can. My first year has seen me involved in all manner of contentious areas from criminal matters in the Crown Court to a contentious probate matter in the Rolls Building at the High Court. On top of that, there are a whole host of events to get involved in, including business and networking events, external seminars, sports matches, the annual golf day, the firm wide summer party and not forgetting the Christmas party with the infamous trainee pantomime.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year at Woodfines and look forward to all that awaits me in my second year. This September, I shall be making my third office move to Sandy. My advice for the new trainees joining Woodfines and those elsewhere is to take advantage of every opportunity, but also seek out opportunities that might be waiting for you. Being a trainee can be difficult at times, however, throwing yourself into everything, including social opportunities outside of work, will mean you not only develop in your career, but also enjoy yourself along the way!