Before I started my training contract here at Howes Percival, I had a number of ideas about how I envisioned the two years to be. Now, mid-way through my second seat, I realise that a number of those ideas were misconceptions. I will share five of them with you now.
Expectation number one: Each day will be similar.
Wrong! In each of my two seats – corporate and commercial property – my workload has been hugely varied. When arriving at the office in the morning you never quite know what your working day will encompass and it is likely that things will change as the deal or transaction develops. This keeps the work interesting and has allowed me to gain a breadth of experience across each of my seats.
Expectation number two: I know which areas of law I like and don’t like.
We all have expectations based on experience in our undergraduate degrees/ LPCs/ GDLs as to the areas of law we do and don’t enjoy. In my experience (albeit brief) the work can be very different in practice compared to when studied in an academic environment. My 19 year old self studying Land Law would certainly be shocked to hear that I was very much enjoying my seat in the commercial property department! My advice would be not to judge a (text)book by its cover and give different departments a chance – you never know, they could surprise you.
Expectation number three: my work as a trainee will be very different to the other fee earners.
My experience here at Howes Percival has completely disproved this expectation. In each of my seats I have been given work which is typical of that of any fee earner in the team. At times this can feel intimidating as the work we undertake is integral to our department however, help is always at hand and fee earners will always be willing to check work or explain anything we are unsure of. Because I am given real responsibility, I feel valued by the firm and take pride in the work I produce.
Expectation number four: being a trainee solicitor is all about learning the law.
Given, that part is pretty crucial, however during my training contract I have also been given the opportunity to participate in a variety of other initiatives. For example, we are encouraged to get involved in networking events which allow us to meet other professionals and build connections. Some events we are invited to through the firm, others we are free to arrange ourselves. This makes my working life more varied and gives me a more realistic understanding of my profession as business development is key to the success of law firms and fee earners alike.
Expectation number five: everyone wears suits.
In contrast to the TV dramas which formed my understanding of law firms prior to commencement of my training contract, we do not wear suits all the time. Howes Percival’s ‘dress to your diary’ policy is much more relaxed and allows me to wear comfortable clothes on most days. However, I do always have the opportunity to channel my inner Rachel Zane when attending client meetings or networking events!
I hope I have dispelled some training contract myths for prospective trainees, or otherwise provided entertainment by exposing some of my own misconceptions. Either way, if you would like to find out more about life as a trainee solicitor at Howes Percival, take a look at our ‘day in the life' profiles.