When choosing a law firm, some common questions asked by aspiring trainee solicitors are, “Will I be given enough responsibility?” “How much client contact will I have?” and “Will I be given my own files?”
The answer is generally “the bigger the law firm, the less individual responsibility you will get”. So if you decide to train with a high street firm, expect to be neck deep in your own files by the end of month one. Equally, if you aspire to work for an international City firm, don’t expect to see your name on a file until qualification (if you’re lucky). I may be shamelessly stereotyping here, but this has been the gist of the feedback I have received from trainee friends working at both ends of the spectrum.
If you want the best of both worlds, however, you should consider training at a mid-size, regional firm, like Howes Percival. A recent example from my last seat, Estates, illustrates my point.
During my seat, I was given some relatively simple files to run myself. These were excellent for broadening my experience and boosting my confidence. Not every file that lands on your desk is straightforward though.
Towards the end of my seat I was asked to look after my supervisor’s files for two weeks while she was away on annual leave. One of the matters involved a multi-million pound farm sale, with exchange of contracts and completion expected while my supervisor was away. There was still some negotiation to do on the sale contract, transfer deed and overage agreement, and there was a tricky issue to resolve relating to the apportionment of rent for a telecommunications mast. I was responsible for dealing with these points and for liaising directly with all parties involved.
The sale completed as planned, and my supervisor came back to a happy client (and a relieved trainee). At all stages during the process I felt comfortable enough to approach more experienced colleagues for assistance, who provided reassurance and assistance when needed, but none of them wanted to take over, or doubted my ability.
During the course of the sale I had extensive contact with the client, and was able to build a lasting relationship. I also experienced the pressure of last minute negotiations and managed to organise the safe and effective transfer of large sums of money. It is this careful balance between supervision, and giving you responsibility, that I feel is really helping my development at Howes Percival.
If the above appeals to you, you should look into applying for a training contract at Howes Percival. This link will take you to our Graduate Recruitment page, where you will find details about the application process.