One down, one to go

Hi everyone,

I’m very happy to say that yesterday marked the halfway point of my Training Contract… Phew!! One year to go and I’ll finally be able to say I’ve achieved my goal of becoming a solicitor. All of the studying, coursework, exams and panicking will finally be over and hopefully worth it.

In my last post I said my next one would be more about the PSC and the financial and business skills course and I had planned on doing that, but I think now is a good time to reflect on my experiences, thoughts and feelings about my time as a trainee so far.

I’m not going to lie to you guys, this first year has not been plain sailing. I’ve had many ups and downs and sometimes I have felt like giving up. I’ve watched friends travel to the other side of the world, follow their dreams and move abroad etc. and I have honestly felt like giving it all up and following them. However, I have to remind myself that this is my dream and giving up would be throwing away all of the effort I have put into getting here. I couldn’t do that to myself. What would be the point?

I don’t mean to sound all doom and gloom and it definitely hasn’t been a bad experience. I guess every job has it’s stressful periods and I am going to grit my teeth through the rough times and get through them.

Anyway, enough of the pity party, I have also had many positive experiences, some of which I never expected. I’m rather lucky in the sense that my TC hasn’t just consisted of photocopying, scanning and making coffee. I know of trainees who barely gain any legal experience during their two years. That’s definitely not the case for me. I have worked on commercial, property, probate and family matters. I’ve been to the Central Family Court in Holborn and the High Court Chancery Division (very nice building, by the way). I’ve drafted divorce petitions and whole witness statements from scratch, looked through share purchase agreements and even drafted board resolutions and a Part 36 offer. FYI, I was very happy to find out I knew how to draft the Part 36 offer whereas my supervising solicitor did not. I could go on and on about all of the things I have been able to do and accomplish but I don’t want to bore you. My point is, although I hate it sometimes, I am happy that I’m able to experience such a variety of work.

Now that I only have one year left I’m beginning to think about what area I actually want to go into once I qualify. I’m still not 100% sure at the moment, but that’s the problem with doing so many different things. I always thought I wanted to go into family law, and I still do, but know I’m starting to wonder if I would rather work in wills and probate, property or even commercial law. I must admit I’m finding it all rather confusing. I hated business/commercial law during the LPC but I’m a little worried to find I’ve (kind of) enjoyed it in practice. So much to think about before I qualify. I guess this is the whole point of a Training Contract!! Not just to train you into a competent solicitor, but also to help you figure out which area you enjoy the most.. Luckily I have a whole year to figure it out and, trust me, I’ll be thinking about it the whole time.

One thing that I have been thinking a lot about recently is how important it is to find the right practice for you. We have seen quite a few people come and go because they couldn’t deal with the work they were given/the way the practice works, or they clashed with those higher up. I know for many people the prospect of gaining a Training Contract is so tempting they’re prepared to go anywhere, and I was definitely one of those people when I first started out. However, you still need to find somewhere that will help you learn and grow rather than make you feel unappreciated and overworked. Don’t get me wrong, i think all trainees are overworked (and underpaid) but it helps if you’re in a firm where you get along with everyone and feel comfortable. Please, please, if you are offered a Training Contract anywhere, make sure you consider how it will help you. You’re not just there to help the firm, you’re there to progress in your career and also grow as a person. You’ll want to be able to learn as much as possible and gain experience in a wide range of areas. If you’re unsure about a firm and don’t think it’s the right fit for you, don’t take it!! Remember, it may only be two years of your life, but those two years may shape your whole future.

Well, that’s all I want to write about my first year as a trainee. I could continue writing forever but that’s just boring (for me and any readers!). So, I’ll leave you to ponder my experience of the first half of my Training Contract and I’d be interested to see how your first year compares with mine. Please feel free to comment or drop me an email through the contact me page (here).

P.s. I just booked the rest of my PSC courses (eurgh, advocacy) so I’ll be able to write about those once I complete them.