The Training Contract Story So Far… | Part one

Posted on July 6, 2015

Starting a new job is always full of apprehension but more so after it begins as the result and accumulation of hard work and 5 years of study.  Nobody said becoming a Solicitor would be easy and a training contract is indeed intended to offer you the experience, tools and practical knowledge you need to put the law you learn on paper into practice.   I am now coming up to my 6 month ‘work anniversary’ and as I gear up to move into my second ‘seat’  I am feeling reflective of my initial period as a trainee solicitor.

For those unaware, the path to being a fully qualified Solicitor is as follows:

Step 1: University Study (usually a law degree or another subject with a law conversion)
Duration: 3 years; or 4 years if you have an academic year abroad

Step 2: Law School to study the Legal Practice Course
Duration: 1 year

Step 3: Training Contract (made up of periods of time in different departments known as ‘seats’)
Duration: 2 years

Professional Skills Course to be completed during the Training Contract
Duration: 8 days of compulsory subjects. 4 days of elective topics.

Step 4: Fully Qualified Solicitor

The last 6 months I have spent working with a wonderful group of women in the Family Department.  Working at Jefferies Solicitors, I learned very early on in my training contract how supportive everyone is towards each other and especially through my experience working in Family, how you quickly become part of the team and are viewed as a colleague rather than a junior member of the department.

I began working in the area of Divorce and Finance under the supervision of the Deputy Head of Department in January 2015.  I gained invaluable experience by starting my training contact here as they were extremely supportive in giving me responsibility early on and letting me share in her years of experience in Family Law.  I was able to observe client interviews and prepare the necessary documentation for divorce proceedings and financial settlements.  Jefferies Solicitors offer a fixed fee initial interview for family matters and these interviews were the most advantageous to observe and learn from; as not only are the legal issues established but you are able to see the commencement of the client/solicitor relationship.

Client interaction is my favourite part of this job and I find this to be the most rewarding.  In family matters, you often see people when they are experiencing an extremely stressful and difficult period of their lives and for this reason, client care is of the utmost importance to Jefferies Solicitors. Karen is especially good at making clients feel at ease and providing them with advice which is personal to them and their circumstances.

Having now moved onto children matters under the supervision of Department Head, Stella Young, I have learnt further the importance of good client care.  Legal jargon is helpful when dealing with Courts and other legal professionals but ultimately clients want to know the legal procedure, process and potential outcome of their case in a manner which is appropriate to their needs.  Teamwork in this area of the department is high on the agenda due to the numerous court appearances public and private law children cases can command.  Often hearings are listed on the same day for a number of cases so it is important that the Solicitors are able to cover each other’s hearings and be familiar with the cases.  Stella is very supportive of her trainees in allowing them to attend interesting and stimulating court hearings, often to provide her clients with a familiar face and the trainees in turn, invaluable experience.

I have been very fortunate to have worked with both Stella and Karen as they have been extremely welcoming and generous towards me in promoting my own professional confidence and trusting me with work on their cases.  Building up a good rapport with your supervisor is vital during your training contract.  They really are the best resource you could hope for and I very much feel that I can go to them with any questions I have and they will be happy to give me the answers.  Luckily Jefferies Solicitors has an open-door policy so you never feel that any question is superfluous.

It is also important to remember that your supervisor was also once in your shoes and knows exactly what it feels like to be new and to be a trainee.  I am very privileged to know that I work in a department with such approachable and kind individuals.  Ultimately, however, the more effort and hard work you put in, the greater the learning experience and the more rewarding your time in that seat will be.

I will be sad to leave the Family Department as I have learnt and enjoyed so much in this role but I am looking forward to commencing my next adventure in the Conveyancing Department from July onwards.

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