I am now just over half-way through my eight-month seat in the Personal and Family team in Glasgow, and I thought it would be useful to share my experience so far, to let other trainees know what to expect.
Part of the reason I had hoped to undertake a seat with Personal and Family is because of the level of client contact involved. I like communicating with people, and I find helping families and individuals through often difficult times is very rewarding. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there hasn't been any face-to-face contact, but there has certainly been lots of client contact via email, video calls and telephone.
As well as sitting in on calls and virtual meetings with senior colleagues, quite early on in the seat I was given simple matters of my own to deal with. These include services such as simple wills and powers of attorney. Although I have help and support at each stage, I have been the sole Brodies point of contact for several clients, so it's my responsibility to ensure they are dealt with appropriately and in a timely manner. This has been a great learning experience, allowing me to build up my confidence in speaking to clients about legal matters, as well as taking instructions correctly and learning how to manage my own workload. It's very much a case of being given my own matters to manage and having ownership of them and any deadlines involved.
As I have progressed within the seat, I have also become more involved in trust and executry work. This work is more complex but interesting - no two matters are the same. Initially, I assisted senior colleagues, but now have some executries of my own. Due to the nature of the work involved, these types of matters can sometimes be emotional for clients or challenging, so it's really useful to see how senior colleagues address these situations and then apply that approach to my own matters.
During my seat, I have also been involved in undertaking varied research and producing presentations on those topics, on behalf of senior colleagues. For example, I completed complex research relating to inheritance tax relief as well as how COVID-19 restrictions have changed our guidance for witnessing legal documents such as wills. I've also been encouraged to take part in business development activities, such as writing blogs, and getting involved in different Brodies initiatives, such as the Early Year's Hub for high school students and becoming a mentor for a current law student via the Aberdeen University Commercial Law Society.
Since I started my traineeship remotely, I haven't actually met any of my colleagues or clients in person, but I don't feel this has impacted on the learning experience. I have been involved a huge variety of work and remained busy throughout. My colleagues are friendly and supportive, and only a videocall away if I need them.
Being in a personal and family seat involves a steep learning curve and a lot of responsibility, however, I have had a great experience so far, and as a first seat trainee, I've actually been able to complete real legal work. Every day is completely different, and the work is very varied.
I think the experience a trainee gains from this seat is valuable, regardless of where you end up once you're qualified. The work you complete for clients is intensely personal for them, so the lawyer-client dynamic is very different compared to a commercial client. Private clients may never have made a will, nor dealt with any legal matters before, so they may be unfamiliar with the processes and legal jargon that comes with it. Guiding them through these situations is very rewarding and provides you with a lot of transferrable skills, which will be useful no matter what path you take.