Sep 11, 2019

Written By Becky Kells, Editor, AllAboutLaw

The life of a trainee solicitor: London edition

Sep 11, 2019

Written By Becky Kells, Editor, AllAboutLaw

For many, the journey to qualifying as a solicitor starts in one city: London. With a huge array of clients and practice areas to choose from, it remains one of the most exciting places to do your training contract. Mabel O’Connor, a trainee solicitor at Addleshaw Goddard, tells us more about what it’s like to train in the capital.

A bit about Mabel  

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

I am currently in the middle of my second seat, which is in finance litigation. My first seat was spent in corporate banking. I have two seats remaining before qualification.  

Which seat have you enjoyed the most?

Choosing between banking and finance litigation is incredibly difficult as I have enjoyed both immensely. Banking has a lot of client contact and is fast-paced, whereas finance litigation focuses more on law itself. From my experience, trainee tasks differ massively between the two departments.

Banking is transactional, meaning that a typical trainee task is assisting in the organisation and management of a matter. I found it really enjoyable watching a matter progress from start to finish.  Finance litigation has more research tasks for trainees to undertake, which allows you to research aspects of law that no one else knows the answer to—if there even is one!

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? 

As I progress through my training contract, I continue to gain a greater understanding of what a career in law actually consists of. I have been able to learn what I may or may not want for my future career. My choices for seat move have become more streamlined as I develop my own ideas and the desire to experience certain types of work.


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? 

The support system in both of my seats has been excellent. Everyone at every level, from trainees to partners, has been approachable and happy to answer any questions that I may have. This makes such a difference as I have never been afraid to ask a question—even if it might sound like a ridiculous question to ask. 

 My supervisors have been brilliant and legitimately invested in my development.  This has allowed me to get advice on all aspects of my training contract, from seat move to qualification and beyond.

Addleshaw Goddard has an ethos that promotes a healthy work-life balance. We have also signed up to the Mindful Business Charter. There is no "face time" culture, which means that if you have completed your work you don't have to stay late without reason. This is really embraced by all levels and shines through the working relationship trainees have with partners and associates.  

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

The intakes at Addleshaw Goddard aren't massive, which means you really do know everyone in the trainee cohort. My intake in London has a WhatsApp group where we arrange drinks after work or plan to go to other events that are happening nearby. For example, recently some of the trainees in my intake attended a festival together.  

We also have formally organised social events run by the graduate team or the trainee social committee, such as the trainee Christmas party or the trainee conference. We are really lucky at Addleshaw Goddard as we are given the opportunity to work closely with our other offices and socialise with trainees across the entire firm. This means that the annual trainee conference is a great event to catch up and speak to your trainee friends who work in Manchester, Edinburgh or Leeds. 

How do you manage and prioritise your workload? 

I always have a to-do list running, which splits out the different tasks I am required to do that week for each matter that I am working on. I also categorise my emails and have a system where I file them once they have been actioned. These habits have helped me to manage my workload to ensure that no tasks are missed. 

Learning which tasks to prioritise is difficult as a trainee as you are managing the expectations of a large number of people at once. I make sure to always ask for the deadline so I can complete each task on time. This also helps me to be realistic about how much capacity I have to assist. 

Are there any elements to training in London that you would not have experienced elsewhere? 

Whilst in banking, I had opportunities to attend meetings with clients who were based locally on multiple occasions. In finance litigation, I have had ample opportunity to attend court and go to the Royal Courts of Justice. I think that if I was based regionally, I would have less opportunity to attend court due to the distance.  

Life in London 

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

Dinner and drinks is always a good idea in my opinion. If I want to feel a bit more virtuous, I like to make the most out of the excessive range of gym classes available in London. Reformer Pilates followed by a glass of wine and a pizza is always favourite. 

And what is your favourite weekend activity in the city?

A great weekend activity is simply exploring London.  Hailing from the North of England, I think there is so much to see. I like to get a coffee and wander around. London has loads of great art exhibits, events, shopping and culture to get involved in. 

Can you sum up the city in three words?

Fast-paced, diverse and exciting. 

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

Most of the people I know from school and university now work in the City. This is great as it means I have a network of people around me which made moving to London less intimidating. 

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

So easy! A packed tube carriage initially seems daunting, but you definitely become accustomed to making your way on. You can get around super-fast on the tube which is great when you need to be somewhere in a rush. 

Finding a flat is easy and there is something available for every price point. The price of the flat depends on the distance from central London and the quality of the flat itself. If you need a temporary solution, there are also websites where you can rent a room whilst you search for your perfect flat. 

Mabel’s top five reasons to train in London 

1. Great transport links—in London, nationally and internationally. 

2. A wealth of opportunities that may not be available in the regions. 

3. High quality work. 

4. So many interesting things to do outside of work. 

5. The Addleshaw Goddard London Canteen is (genuinely) award-winning.