A traineeship will undoubtedly challenge you. Whether or not it's your first experience of an office environment, you'll be placed outside your comfort zone on a regular basis – and that's a good thing. You'll also learn a few valuable lessons along the way...
It's not all about the law
Your LLB studies and the Diploma could easily give the impression that working in a law firm is exclusively about cases, legislation and lots of Latin. Any trainee will tell you that could not be further from the truth. You start to realise the importance of "commercial awareness" and why law firms mention this during the hiring process.
When you spend eight months in a team or practice area – eight months being the standard duration for one seat at Brodies - you quickly learn about the main industry players and your team's main clients. Understanding this and reading up on relevant markets will be just as beneficial to you as keeping up to date on recent case judgements.
The best advice I was given for attending business development events as a trainee is to get involved in conversations about the work that people around you do – ask questions and engage with them. The conversation will become more natural and you will benefit more from it yourself.
A 'bad seat' does not exist
The beauty of a traineeship at a full-service firm is that you work for a variety of practice areas. Even within your three seats, you may be working for multiple teams. So, if you don't particularly enjoy one area, there will be others to experience.
If you don't get your first seat choice, don't be disheartened. You'll never leave a seat without having learnt new skills. The Diploma only partly covers what you’ll be faced with in practice, so it's easy to narrow your options too quickly or disregard subjects based on your opinion of them at university. Keep an open mind – many people I have spoken to have ended up enjoying careers in areas of law they didn’t particularly enjoy at university.
No, you won't just be photocopying and making tea
You will quickly gain responsibility for your own tasks at Brodies. Showing an active interest in specific areas of work will work in your favour - the more engaged you are, the better the quality of work you receive.
You will still be adequately trained though and never left to feel like you are drowning. The increased responsibility will, over time, develop your organisational and time management skills too. It may come as a shock to you when it comes to your first quarterly review at just how many tasks you have undertaken in a short period of time.
You only train once
You really do get out of it what you put in. Your traineeship is a safe space to make mistakes and learn. You don't need to know everything from day one. All of the solicitors around you were trainees once and are understanding of your situation. You'll receive individual feedback for work on a regular basis and if you take it on board, you'll see your skills develop significantly. Put your ego aside and take heed of the advice given by your colleagues.
Remember that your traineeship is about development; continue to learn from your experiences and mistakes and you won't make them again.
One year in, I can confidently say I have learnt something new every day. You may view university as the end of one stage and traineeship the start of another, but the reality is that the learning process does not stop.
Applications for our 2022 traineeships are open until Friday 28 August.