If you are reading this blog post, chances are you’re considering a career in law. The traditional route to qualification as a solicitor is through the completion of a training contract, and no doubt you will apply for training contracts at multiple firms. Indeed, in the current market, it would be naïve not to. But do you know exactly what you are signing up for? The name may be the same, but every training contract is different. Here is a trainee’s perspective of how we do things at Gateley.
The big picture
My training contract is for two years and it began in September 2013. During the two years I will complete four six month ‘seats’. To describe the concept of ‘seats’ in layman terms, this means spending six months working in four different departments across the firm. In each department I have a designated supervisor, but work with all fee earners in the team.
In each seat I receive two appraisals – halfway through and at the end. Both my supervisor and I complete an appraisal form, which allows us to reflect on my performance in different aspects of the job. By receiving regular appraisals I am able to identify things that I do well, what I need to focus on and the skills I need to develop. Evaluating my progress is crucial for ensuring that I develop over the course of my training contract, and have the skills needed to become a qualified solicitor at the end.
I have completed two of my mandatory seats – a corporate and a contentious (litigation) seat. I am also required to complete a property seat. The rationale behind this is to encourage trainees to develop into well rounded solicitors who are prepared for qualification. It would be difficult to achieve this by spending all of my time in one niche area of law. I have come to realise that there is huge overlap between seats, so even if I were to qualify into corporate, having a working knowledge of commercial contract law would be hugely beneficial. At the end of my first year I was asked to give my preferences for my seats in my second year, and I am now sitting in my first choice, Corporate Recovery.
Professional Skills Course (PSC)
Information about the ‘PSC’ course is a popular question asked by students at law fairs and incoming trainees. In short, it is a mandatory requirement for qualifying as a solicitor to complete, and builds on the knowledge developed during the LPC. The firm arranges and funds our completion of the course, which we do as a firm-wide trainee intake. PSC sessions are therefore not only informative, but also a great opportunity to catch up with friends from other offices.
As a trainee my job certainly does not begin and end at my desk. I am the trainee charity representative for my office, head up the office social club, attend networking and client events and, of course, get involved with social media efforts such as writing this blog!
The skills that can be developed from organising a social or getting out of the office and meeting clients are every bit as important as being technically proficient at legal work. The firm appreciates this, and trainees are encouraged to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in.