Agree and Close
Musical chairs – how to ace changing seats and cities
At Howes Percival, trainees are encouraged to move offices during their training contract. Not only do you benefit from the experience of different specialisms, you get to meet more of your colleagues and build your professional network. Who doesn’t want more LinkedIn connections?
After completing my undergraduate studies, I moved back in with my parents in Northampton (much to their joy) whilst I studied the LPC. Moving to Cambridge to begin my training contract and then uprooting to Norwich for my second seat has shown me that there’s more to a successful seat change than conquering the printers at your new office. Here are my tips and tricks to acing your seat change and making it an enjoyable experience.
Tip One: Plan Ahead
The end of your seat will likely be its busiest period. Your team are now familiar with you and you are (surprisingly) becoming familiar with the area of law. Trust is growing in your capability to make meaningful contributions to the team. Inevitably, the final weeks fly by as tasks become more challenging. However, all that lawyering can cause you to forget about the inevitable life admin that goes hand-in-hand with changing seats and moving cities.
Planning in advance will reduce any end of seat stress. You do not want to be a week away from moving cities without a place to stay! In preparation for my move to Norwich, I made sure I was advertising my interest in renting a room on all the usual house sharing platforms at least six weeks in advance. Panic picking a room will only result in questionable choices and even more questionable housemates (from someone with experience). Make sure you have allocated a day or evening after work to view rooms. Even better if you give yourself enough time to make a second visit!
Make sure you check the means of transport in your new city. If you are living centrally, most cities will enforce controlled parking zones. Don’t leave your parking permit application until the last minute or you may end up parking some distance from your new home (like me).
Tip Two: Embrace your new surroundings
Get ahead of the game and contact the trainees in your next office. Your colleagues can let you know about local junior lawyer and young professional groups you can get involved with. These groups will inevitably help you get to know other young professionals (and show you the best bars and venues in the city).
Your new surroundings are likely to surprise you too. There will be something new to try out. For example, a fudge shop in Cambridge revolutionised my opinion on the confectionary. Every place offers something different, and you will enjoy your new home more if you take the time to explore its potential!
Tip Three: Get your Goodbyes in order
You are likely to finish your seat with added responsibility. At Howes Percival, trainees are often allowed to independently manage files (with supervision of course) and be the clients point of contact. Make sure any files you have had overall responsibility for are left with an accompanying handover note and given to the appropriate fee earner. The worst goodbye you can give your team and clients is to leave transactions unaccounted for. It can take time for a fee earner to review a file and get up to speed with its progress if they are not given prior warning.
Make sure your goodbyes are in keeping with office etiquette. At the Cambridge office, people bring in cakes and chocolate to say farewell!
Tip Four: Exit smoothly from the comfort zone
Your previous seat, office and colleagues have been ever-present throughout the previous six months. Naturally, they become your comfort zone. Moving offices and changing seats disrupts all of those comforts. However, it is important to remember that your new supervisor does not expect you to know everything and will give you time to adjust to your new surroundings! The culture at Howes Percival is built on cooperation and support, which includes helping trainees adjust to a new life at a new office.
I am one month into my seat at the Norwich office. As we are now all in the midst of social distancing in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, I am currently stuck indoors. Hopefully I will be allowed outside to explore the city at some point in the next six months!