Looking back at the start of my legal career, there are certainly a few things that I know now that I wish I had known then, and which would have massively helped me starting out on my career path. I've picked out five of the most important ones that will hopefully help you out on your first steps into legal life.

1. It's ok not to know everything right away

    You can feel a bit like a rabbit caught in headlights at the start of your traineeship and the transition from university to working life can be tough. But remember that you're just starting out on your legal journey. If a partner asks you to do a bit of research it just means they don't know the answer either – proving that even after 20+ years of working it's impossible to know everything! The point of being a trainee is to learn - so don't be afraid to ask questions and try to absorb as much as you can from those more experienced than you.

    2. People want you to succeed

      Your senior colleagues are there to support you, and they really do want you to successfully navigate the early parts of your career. You might be surprised about how willing people are to help you out when you're stuck or to provide a steer on the best way to tackle a particular piece of work. Build up a rapport with your fellow trainees and lean on your colleagues for advice. Share your experiences with people at the same stage as you; you never know when someone has been through the same thing you have, or just as importantly when someone else could benefit from your experience.

      3. Things will go wrong

        It's inevitable that not everything will go completely to plan on every transaction, and sometimes mistakes can happen. I've learned over the years that things can go wrong, but it's very rare that something can't be fixed. So if a transaction starts to go pear shaped, it's really important to let the person supervising you know right away and not to try and fix things yourself. Your supervisor will be able to help you navigate the issue and work on techniques to learn from the experience. See point 2 above!

        4. Taking a breath is key

          It's really important not to rush into every task that's given to you at 100mph – it took me a while to appreciate that during the early stages of my career. Quantity of work done very rarely equates to quality of work done. When given a new piece of work, take five minutes to really think about what it is you're being asked to do. Have you done this type of thing before? Have you heard someone else in the team mention working on something similar previously? What assistance will you need to complete the task? Pausing to think about these things, and taking time to plan work before starting, will result in a much better outcome.

          5. Be careful with Google

            Specifically when it comes to choosing your motto for becoming a Notary Public. Otherwise you'll end up like me and be stuck with a Latin motto that turns out to be absolute gibberish for the rest of your legal career – cheers for that Google Translate…


            Graeme Imrie

            Senior Associate