Last week I was ill with a stomach bug and ended up being off of work for 2 and a half days. While I was wallowing in self-pity I started thinking about what I would have been doing if I was at work and thought it would be a good idea to write about the kind of things I typically do to give you guys a taste of what to expect.
Before I get started, please remember that I work in a relatively small high street firm and this post is based on my experience only. Different Companies will require you to complete different tasks and working at, for example, work at a large international firm is of course going to be a lot different to what I do. It also depends on what seats you are completing. (I know a lot of that is obvious, but I wanted to make it clear)
There is a lot of admin to be done during each week. This can be anything from completing stationery orders, to photocopying, to setting up a congestion charge account for one of the Solicitors (random I know, but this did happen). Even 7 months in I’m still doing more admin than I’d like to and I’m sure I’ll be doing so until I qualify.
I think this comes as a surprise for a lot of people because they start with the expectation that they will be doing legal work from the outset. It took a month or two for me to get my first proper file that I would be able to see through to the end, not because I wasn’t capable, but because you have to prove you are willing to do the less important (and less fun!) jobs before you are given the responsibility of doing legal work. Luckily for me, my first legal job was as a Paralegal at a small law firm and involved a huge amount of admin work (including entering addresses into my boss’s SatNav), so I was quite used to this when I started my Training Contract.
Other Trainees I have spoken to have said their whole Training Contract is admin work and all they end up doing is photocopying and making teas/coffees.
It’s hard to predict how much admin you will end up doing, but my advice is to be prepared to do a lot and also be prepared to do some pretty weird things that will probably leave you wondering if you’re in the right profession.
Obviously legal work is the reason we all do Training Contracts – the idea being it will train us to a suitable level before qualifying as solicitors.
The legal work I carry out each week varies, sometimes it is difficult and sometime it’s relatively simple. As I said above, it will also depend on the seat you are in, although I must say, working in a small high street firm means I generally do not stick to one seat at a time. Sometimes I’ll do matrimonial and property work in the same week.
Typically, a lot of the legal work I do involves drafting petitions/claim forms, researching legal areas and drafting letters to explain the research I’ve done. I have also drafted written resolutions and board minutes (business law – yuck!) without having any prior knowledge of how to do this, with the exception of what I learnt while studying the LPC.
As I am currently working in the matrimonial department I mostly draft divorce petitions, write letters to the other side’s solicitors, complete Form Es (can be very time-consuming) and I have previously drafted a consent order from scratch on a file I barely knew. I am also required to draft instructions to counsel, liaise with counsel’s clerks and arrange conferences.
As with most jobs, some weeks can be pretty hectic, while others can be very quiet. You should expect to do a lot of different work, some you’ll be comfortable with and some will require a lot of thought and effort. You can also expect to be doing things you never thought you would do during your Training Contract. However, I would advise you to keep your head down, do the best you can do and enjoy yourself! You’ll learn more than you ever did at university or law school and, at the end of the day, it will be worth it. The two years will fly by (at least, that’s what I keep telling myself!)
I hope this has given you a quick insight into the life of a Trainee and, as always, if you have any questions feel free to get in contact with me via the comments or the contact page.