Interview with David Thornton – A Day in the Life of a Second Year Trainee

Can you give me a breakdown of your typical day as a second year trainee?

No day is ever the same, and that’s certainly the case as a second year trainee in the employment team. Whether I’m drafting a settlement agreement or advising on immigration law, there’s never a shortage of new and interesting work to get involved in. With such a varied workload, a ‘typical day’ is therefore difficult to describe (aside from my routine morning coffee!). In a typical week I’d usually expect to attend client meetings, draft legal documents, research complex employment law issues and help to prepare for upcoming tribunals. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. My best breakdown of a typical day? Always expect the unexpected!

How has your day-to-day activity changed from first year to second year?

Starting out as a first year trainee is all about finding your feet, getting to know people and learning as much as possible. During my Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (DPLP) I worked as a business development assistant in our Aberdeen office, so starting my traineeship was more like picking up where I left off rather than a normal ‘first day in the office’. I stayed in Aberdeen for one year and had exposure to property, banking and employment work. Moving to Edinburgh for my second year has been like starting again in some ways (new office, new people, new work) but I’ve loved it so far. I’d encourage trainees to move around offices if possible - it’s one of the perks of the job.

How different have you found your daily activities to be depending on the department in which you are seated?

A huge difference. My first seat was split between commercial property and land & rural business (LRB). I found the transactional nature of property work fascinating, with some personal highlights including drafting a lease for a Christmas tree plantation and assisting clients with the purchase of a retail park. Employment has a transactional element too, but unlike property there’s also a good amount of contentious work thrown into the mix too. With employment tribunal fees recently being lifted, I suspect I’ll be dealing with a few more tribunal claims before my time in employment ends!

How does the prospect of starting your career as a fully-qualified solicitor compare with the feeling when you started out as a new trainee?

Qualifying as a solicitor seemed like a distant milestone when I started out last year. With job applications for NQ positions fast-approaching though, being a fully qualified solicitor is now a very real and exciting prospect. Even after completing my LLB degree and DPLP, I was still a bit apprehensive about starting my traineeship. What if I don’t enjoy it? Will I still have a life outside work? Thankfully there was no need to worry. Life at Brodies has exceeded my expectations and I’m looking forward to finding out what the future has in store.

How have your expectations and ambitions for life as an NQ changed (if at all) from the start of your traineeship experience?

Thankfully my ambitions for qualifying into the legal profession haven’t changed. I still want to be a lawyer, phew! With regards to expectations, I had no idea what life would be like as a solicitor when I started. The DPLP is great practical training – and I was fortunate to work at Brodies during my DPLP (albeit in a different role) – but there’s nothing quite like the real thing. As a second year trainee, I now have a much clearer idea of what life as an NQ will entail, although this will depend on which area of law I choose to qualify in. With my third and final seat starting in October, I’m excited to meet my new team and to try my hand at something new.

What’s been your favourite part of your traineeship?

One of my highlights as a property trainee was purchasing a flat for a good friend of mine. It was a great experience handling my own transaction and being treated to lunch by my ‘client’ after completion topped it off nicely! I’ve also loved being part of the charities committee and would encourage any new trainee to seek out similar opportunities. It’s the best way to meet colleagues in other departments and it’s great fun too. Earlier this year I took part in Run Balmoral and hosted a pub quiz with another trainee, raising £1,500 for Brodies’ charity partner, Maggie’s Centres. The more you put in to your traineeship the more you’ll get out, so get involved from day one and enjoy it.

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