In the latest instalment of our ‘My Traineeship’ series, Andrew Gibson gives us the low-down on his training at Brodies.
Walk us through your traineeship.
Seat 1: IP, Technology & Outsourcing team, Edinburgh (8 months). In my first seat my workload was split between the contentious IP team and the non-contentious IP/Technology team (which now forms part of Brodies’ Commercial Services Division). This seat involved drafting, revising and advising on commercial contracts and outsourcing agreements as well as IP and general commercial litigation.
Seat 2: Personal & Family, Glasgow (4 months). As I live in Glasgow, I was delighted to begin my second seat in the expanding Personal & Family team there. The work was mainly wills and executry matters – similar to what you learn in the Private Client course on the Diploma.
Seat 3: Litigation – Personal Injury, Glasgow (4 months). Unusually, I moved department midway through my second seat. I moved to the Pursuer PI team where I assisted with and acted in a wide range of RTA, medical negligence, property damage and public, employer and occupier liability actions. I regularly appeared in court in this seat, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Seat 4: Corporate, Edinburgh (8 months). My final seat was in Brodies’ Corporate team, where I assisted with asset and share sales/purchases, joint ventures, investments, corporate reorganisations, corporate governance and so on.
What’s been the high point?
There have been lots of ups and downs over the past two years – more ‘ups’ though, thankfully. One high point that sticks out for me was a particular court appearance I had in my PI seat where I successfully argued against the other side being awarded expenses following my motion to discharge a proof (our client was unable to attend due to family reasons).
I also spent a number of weeks working on a big deal at the beginning of my seat in Corporate and attended the (four-day!) completion meeting in Manchester. That was a great thing to be involved in.
What’s been the low point?
You are always learning and experiencing new things on the traineeship, so there are always times when the going gets tough.
It’s not so much a specific low point, but I have spent the majority of my traineeship commuting from Glasgow to Edinburgh. That can be quite tiring and can impact on your life outside of work. However, I’d definitely recommend taking on a seat away from your home location – it’s good to get to know your colleagues and gives you a better insight into the business.
What was your first day like?
As Dave said in his blog, you start with a three-day induction covering IT etc. It’s a great way to start because it’s not too intense and you get the chance to spend a lot of time with your fellow trainees, getting to know each other. We were really put at ease.
The first day in my seat was fine, but towards the end of the day I was given a research task which I struggled to immediately get my head round. Looking back, I find it quite amusing. I had no reason to be as nervous/panicked as I was, but I felt that years of education were all spent building up to this moment – the start of my traineeship. Anyway, after worrying unnecessarily and getting myself into a bit of a state, my work was ultimately quite good and the partner (I think sensing my newbie-nerves) thanked me for it and talked through it with me.
Any amusing moments?
I’ve worked in departments with nice people who have made the job really enjoyable. Outside some great social events and nights out, there have been a few funny moments.
Being mistaken for a cold-caller by a client’s husband who was “[deleted] sick of you people calling” etc. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked to get this response to our initial call! My colleagues certainly enjoyed my misfortune.
During my litigation seat, I made an early morning trip to a sheriff court to have an urgent application heard by the sheriff. I appeared before him in his chambers rather than a (more formal) court room. As with all my court appearances, I’d spent a lot of time preparing. I’d rehearsed my lines and was good to go. You can therefore imagine how knocked off my stride I was when I was led into chambers and his first words to me were: “How you doing mate? Take a seat. Did you catch any of the golf at the weekend?”
“Er… Yes. M’lord…”
What’s next for you?
I’m now qualified and have taken up an NQ position with the Corporate team in Glasgow. It was the only job I applied for when the NQ positions were released internally, so I was delighted to get the job. I’m now really enjoying settling in and I’m learning more and more every day.
What advice would you give to future trainees?
- Tailor your communication. Think about who you are talking to or asking questions of. As you get to know your colleagues, you will get to know how best to communicate with them and who you should ask certain questions.
- Be flexible. Some people enter the traineeship certain that they want to do X, and only X. Valuable experience can be gained in all departments and areas of legal practice – make the most of whatever seat you are in and give it your all. Flexibility may also apply to location for some trainees – the Glasgow/Edinburgh commute isn’t too bad and it’s only temporary if it’s for the duration of a seat.
- Seek out opportunities. If there’s a particular type of work you think you’d be interested in or you’d like to learn more about, just ask. Your colleagues will be happy to talk to you about what they do and will be pleased that you’ve shown an interest.
- Get involved. The traineeship is an excellent opportunity to get your face known within your firm, particularly seen as you may move around departments/locations. Socialise with your team and fellow trainees and take part in as many charity/BD events as you can.
On September 2, 2015