There’s a lot to being a trainee solicitor. At this point you’ve been building up your skillset and education for years, accruing experience and expertise along the way. Now the nature of the game has changed – you’re moved away from making coffee and filing duties and instead plied with legal knowledge, complex file management and responsibility. All the skills you’ll need to start your career as a solicitor.
I have found, however, that people aren’t interested in this. Those among us who are thinking about traineeships are more focused on getting to this point, rather than what happens afterwards. I remember being caught in that cycle of worry, doing everything you can to give you best possible shot at getting the elusive training contract. If I could give one piece of advice to myself, and any aspiring trainees out there, it would be to think pragmatically. At the end of the day, there’s a path out there that will work for you.
Something that’s drilled into law students from a young age is that you need to lock in your training contract immediately. I’ve spoken with second year law students who are desperately spending every free moment and whole summers trying to secure their future. While this drive and dedication is admirable, it’s not the only path you can take.
Think pragmatically. Fresh out of university with no practical legal experience. How do you stack up against applicants who have worked at law firms for a couple of years? Maybe even at the firm you applied to?
Think, as well, about the investment you’re asking a firm to make in you. They have to make the decision to train you for two years, to pay for your expenses over this time as well. Is this an investment a firm can make on the back of one interview? Or will it help your case to demonstrate your skills by working with them in an alternative manner first?
Once more, just for emphasis. Think pragmatically. What can you do that would make a firm want to hire you? A step further, what can you do to make a firm invest in you? What can you do to secure a training contract? Answer these questions and I’m sure that you’ll place yourself securely on the path to traineeship.
Oh, and it was a joke about no longer making coffee. This is an essential life (and trainee solicitor) skill!