The life of a trainee solicitor: Edinburgh edition

What's it like to work as a trainee solicitor in Edinburgh? Kyla Donaldson of Addleshaw Goddard shares her experiences.

  • Last updated Oct 11, 2019 3:53:57 PM
  • Article provided by Addleshaw Goddard

A bit about the trainee

What seat of your training contract are you currently in, and how long have you got left of your training contract?

I am just over halfway through my second seat in Scottish commercial Real Estate, with two more seats to go. My first seat was in Construction, Engineering and Environmental.

Which seat have you enjoyed the most?

It is too early to say. Having managed planning consents for wind farms previously, I am interested in all areas of project work and I have thoroughly enjoyed both the construction and property elements of development in my two seats so far.

Do you feel like your training so far has given you a clear idea of what direction you would like to take your career in?

While I have a long-held interest in renewables and project work, I am keen to keep an open mind. The traineeship, especially at a multi-service firm working across a range of sectors, is such a unique opportunity to broaden your professional experience.

Life at Addleshaw Goddard

What’s the support system like in your current seat—is it easy to develop a working relationship with partners, associates and fellow trainees?

Yes, it is a very open environment, and interaction with all colleagues is easy and encouraged. I work directly with NQs and partners alike. There are supportive mentoring and buddy schemes in place across the firm that are invaluable. I have found getting involved in a range of CSR activities and firm events has been key to developing strong working relationships that have also benefited my professional development and work within the department.

In what ways do you get to socialise with other trainees in your intake?

With the other Scottish trainees in my intake, we enjoy a combination of organised and disorganised fun. We cook for each other as part of a Come Dine With Me competition, as well as going for after-work drinks. As part of the wider firm, we get involved in divisional away days and regular seasonal socials. In Scotland, the Burns Supper is always a highlight.

How do you manage and prioritise your workload?

Managing competing priorities is an ever-evolving and essential skill as a trainee. There can be such a thing as too many to-do lists! I have a workbook where I note tasks as they come in, organising by level of urgency, and an active tracker of all of my matters to discuss at regular updates with my supervisor. I also make use of my diary with recurring appointments and reminders.

Are there any elements to training in Edinburgh that you would not have experienced elsewhere? For example, getting involved with local pro bono, working with local clients, etc.

In commercial Real Estate, I am able to get involved in transactions on my doorstep, which really helps to set the work in context. The view from the office is more beautiful than I would experience anywhere else. Edinburgh is continuously undergoing impressive development—it is great experience generally to be surrounded by dynamic and exciting projects. I spend a lot of time admiring city-centre construction sites with my two-year-old, and I walk past the St James Centre and St Andrew Square redevelopments every day, which are amazing examples of Real Estate law in action!

Life in Edinburgh

What is your favourite thing to do after work as a trainee in Edinburgh?

When neither working nor wrangling a toddler (so, not very often), I enjoy taking ballet classes at Dance Base with floor-to-ceiling views of Edinburgh Castle or skating with the Auld Reekie Roller Girls.

And what is your favourite weekend activity in the city?

My favourite thing to do depends on the time of year. It is currently the Edinburgh International Film Festival, which has a consistently varied and brilliant programme. I run in Parkrun every Saturday morning and stomp up Calton Hill, which is next door to my flat and has the best views of the city (aside from our office meeting rooms, of course), at least once every weekend.

Can you sum up the city in three words?

Cultural. Beautiful. Hilly.

As a trainee lawyer, do you find that there are a lot of other young professionals working in the city?

Yes. Countless friends from school, university and beyond are now enjoying professional life in Edinburgh. It is extremely and unavoidably sociable.

Is it easy to get around the city, and find somewhere to live?

Getting around is easy; it isn't a big city and you can walk everywhere. The bus and tram network is fantastic. I have also recently been making use of the Just Eat bikes—it is great to cycle home from work and not worry about storing a bike. The downside to living in the best city in the world is that it is popular. The prevalence of short-term lets such as Airbnb is recognised as becoming problematic, and flats tend to get snapped up quickly.

What are your top five reasons to live and work in Edinburgh?

1. All of Edinburgh's festivals—the volume and quality of international cultural events can be overwhelming, but I recommend embracing as many as possible.

2. Arthur's Seat.

3. Professional opportunities.

4. Old theatres and independent cinemas.

5. Beautiful green spaces and parks everywhere, some of which you can watch castle-based fireworks from twice a year.

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