20-05-10

How to Make the Most of Your Training Contract So you are lucky enough to have secured a Training Contract. According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 2009, 9,101 students commenced the Legal Practice Course but during the same period only 4,320 Training Contracts were registered. Each year we engage 2 Trainees from over 2,000 applicants. Whilst the aim of all Trainees is to qualify, the Training Contract offers a good opportunity to develop your practical, commercial as well as legal skills. To make the most of your 2 years of training, you might bear in mind these practical observations:- • Be open minded. Many Trainees will commence work with a set idea of the area of law they want to qualify into. Be receptive to different areas of the law and remember that you will learn skills in each department even if the law is not in your chosen field. • Prioritise your work in order of importance not appeal. Resist the temptation to relegate the mundane and ensure that you get a clear understanding from those giving you work of the importance and hence the priority that it attracts. • Don't be afraid to clarify any instructions that are unclear and try not to make assumptions in filling in any gaps of knowledge. A balance needs to be struck between using initiative and clarifying facts pertinent to the instructions you have been given. • Whilst it can be tempting to get work done as quickly as possible, it is all too easy to make mistakes if you rush. Take time to review the work that you have produced and aim for it to be of a standard that could be produced or sent to a client. • If you do make an error, own up to it as soon as possible. Small mistakes can often turn into nasty problems if not dealt with promptly. Whatever you do, don't ignore it. It will not go away and nobody wants to start their professional career with a professional complaint or worse still a negligence claim. • Be pro-active. In the unlikely event that you find yourself with spare time let it be known that you have excess capacity. You will then be noticed as well as probably swamped. • Drive your own path. If you find a particular area of law interesting, see how you can get more involved and let your particular interest be known within the department. • Whilst you should have formal appraisals, these may not always take place. In any event, try to get regular feedback even if it is only by way of an informal chat. Do not be afraid to ask for constructive criticism but remember that those supervising your work are likely to be busy, so consider your timing carefully. • Remember to treat support and administrative staff with respect and be appreciative of their efforts. There will be times when you are under pressure and their assistance will be crucial to you. They can also be a good source of intelligence. • Be sociable. Get involved in what goes on in the firm outside of the law whether that involves team sports, attending a work function or just going to the pub after work. Get involved and stay involved. • Recognise that through your efforts you have secured a valuable training contract but that the real hard work starts here. Having seen a number of Trainees pass through my Firm, it is clear that the Trainees who get the most out of their Contract are the ones who put the most in.
Article by John Seigal