When starting your training contract, it is hard to see yourself as the sparkling legal eagle that you see and hear around the office; offering excellent legal advice as standard, consistently bringing in business for the firm and being invited to speak at industry events.
As a trainee no-one expects you to know everything. What people do expect is a hardworking, attentive and conscientious colleague. Here are ten top tips to being a terrific trainee:
1. Good listener – It is vital to be able to listen to careful instructions. Whether from clients, colleagues or support staff. How can you help others if you do not know what help is needed?
2. Ask questions – Everyone at Howes Percival is very friendly and more than willing to help you. The key is to asking the right questions, at the right time, and to show an understanding of the subject matter whilst also showing an enthusiasm to learn. Try not to ask the same question more than once, it shows you have not listened in the first place.
3. Team player - You will need to be able to assist your supervisors and in turn, you will want the secretarial and support staff to help you. Being a good team player and being able to get on with others will make your time during your training contract an enjoyable one.
4. Good juggler- As a trainee, you will be asked to complete a variety of tasks sometimes from other departments in other offices. You need to be able to manage both your team’s (and other’s) expectations which will, in turn, help the firm exceed client’s expectations. The key is to stay organised.
5. Say yes – As a trainee at Howes Percival there are a number of brilliant opportunities if you are willing to volunteer: from playing Petanque dressed as Allo Allo, canoeing around Whitlingham Broad in a thunderstorm to attending an inspirational national networking event. You never know what opportunities exist if you do not try.
6. Communicator - Similar to being a good listener, it is important to have excellent oral and written communication skills. Clear, concise communication helps teams operate with ease. Don’t worry if your drafting or correspondence takes a little time at first, speed will come with experience.
7. Confidence – It is important to not only have confidence in your own ability but to have confidence in what you are saying. Have the confidence to tell fee earners if you have found errors or omissions in their work, but be careful, no one likes a know-it-all.
8. Attention to detail - An obvious, but really important one. Start focusing on this as soon as you can as it is a key characteristic of a successful lawyer; do sweat the small stuff.
9. A good tea maker - Whether it is tea, coffee, hot squash or any variation thereof, being able to make a good brew (adding milk before hot water will cause a stir) not only keeps morale high in the office but shows that you are happy to get involved in all aspects of office life and that no task is beneath you.
10. Enjoy yourself - Don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself!