Training Contract: more than just learning the law

Accutrainee has given me the opportunity to gain a wide variety of invaluable skills through a bespoke Training Contract tailored to my interests and needs. Accutrainee’s truly unique approach has allowed me to experience not only different types of law but also different businesses, personalities and working environments. As the only Trainee in the companies I have been seconded to, I found having a comprehensive handover from my predecessor at the start of each seat particularly helpful. My learning was accelerated further by high levels of responsibility at an early stage and continuous guidance and support from Accutrainee in the form of monthly Training Principal Meetings, bi-annual appraisals, frequent training sessions and networking events. This has been a real advantage, as I receive feedback on my work and progress not only from my day-to-day supervisor but also from my Training Principal and others from the Accutrainee Team.

A Training Contract is a journey that should challenge and motivate you. As a Trainee Solicitor with Accutrainee you will be able to develop your legal skills and career in a flexible, supportive and stimulating environment standing you in good stead to become a highly successful Solicitor.

For me, the real journey began when I received the lucky phone call announcing that I had been successful at an interview with one of Accutrainee’s clients. The first seat of my Training Contract started almost immediately, in one of my dream practice areas – media and finance law within the film industry. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the company has offices in every part of the globe. I am now four months into my second seat, seconded to a large rail freight company, where I have the opportunity to gain experience in commercial law as well as compliance, insurance and employment law. I have found my in-house experience particularly enriching and it has facilitated deep client knowledge and commercial awareness. I would like to think that over the past year I have collected a few valuable skills that I can share with others about to embark on their journey to qualification.

Early on in my training, I was told that a Training Contract is about much more than just learning the law. They were right. It is about using your legal skills in a way that adds value to the business, developing as a leader and gaining the confidence and skills that make clients want to turn to you for advice.

Perhaps the most valuable advice I have received so far, is that what a supervisor values most is time and you are there to make their life easier. Try to anticipate what your supervisor will need next and stay one step ahead. Research your assignment and read any relevant notes on PLC before producing a draft document. Go to your supervisor only once you have a full list of the questions that will enable you to complete your task.

Another important piece of advice is that confidence is a vital trait for a Trainee Solicitor to develop. As Trainees we are keen to prove our worth but the thrill of excitement you get when a client seeks your legal advice, is quickly replaced by anxiety when you realise the next words you say may affect your client’s case. In my experience, researching thoroughly, approaching questions analytically and being methodical has helped me gain a better understanding of how to add value to the team and effectively support clients. Seek opportunities to work on projects/cases that you find challenging, volunteer to do training sessions and presentations, ask for regular feedback and note down all the points that you can improve upon. A Training Contract is your time to learn so use it wisely!

Developing your networking skills is another integral part of the Training Contract. As a Trainee, you may not necessarily be expected to bring in new business but it is still useful to raise your profile. I found walking into a room full of strangers and trying to strike up a conversation with somebody on an unfamiliar topic terrifying. However, it helped me to remember that other people were likely to be feeling the same way too. Most importantly, invest some time in getting to know your team as these relationships may be valuable long after you have completed your Training Contract.

Whilst Training Contract experiences vary from place to place, I hope I have provided a few useful tips and perhaps helped you to reflect on the kind of Trainee you want to be.

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