Having secured a placement after completing your law degree, the training contract will be your first long-term immersive experience in your profession. It is considered the final step in your legal training before becoming a solicitor, after taking the LPC, and consists of a two-year placement in which you will learn about various aspects of the work a firm carries out.
Even if you’ve previously carried out vacation schemes over the course of your degree, the training contract will pose new challenges as you make your start at a law firm.
Although a job offer at the end of your traineeship is not a guarantee, there are a range of points to keep in mind throughout your placement that can increase your chances.
Be prepared to put in the hours
It’s no secret that training contract workloads are demanding. This will especially apply at a bigger-name firm, where you’re often expected to commit parts of your weekday evenings after work to meet oncoming deadlines. This is ultimately a rite of passage for trainee solicitors, and is a key part of the work experience you gain while on your training contract, and it will show your commitment to the job.
At the start, you’ll often find yourself doing relatively mundane tasks, such as filing documents and admin work. Completing these to the best of your ability will ensure will show that you’re willing to get involved in any project and see you assigned more interesting tasks later on, such as putting together research notes.
Balancing work and study
As a trainee, you’ll be dedicating some of your time towards studying for a Professional Skills Course. This is a qualification that is compulsory in order to fully qualify as a solicitor - it consists of three core modules and a series of electives which you can choose based on the area of legal work you would like to go into. This means that you’ll have to manage your time well to study for these exams as well as keep on top of your work commitments.
Take in as much information as you can
You’ll undoubtedly already be well-read in the various practice areas of the firm, having staved off the competition to earn that training contract. However, that shouldn’t stop you from being inquisitive and learning as much as possible whilst on your placement.
This means asking questions whenever possible and making the most of your time in different departments - not only will this increase your technical knowledge, but it will also make a good impression on your colleagues, as someone who is genuinely interested in the job. It will also help to create a pleasant working environment
Find the best department for you
Over the course of your placement, you’ll get the chance to gain experience in at least three different areas of the firm - you can use this to narrow down the area of legal practice that you’re most interested in for a future career. If there’s a department you’ve particularly enjoyed working in and excelled in, there might be a higher chance that the company offers you a job in that department at the end of your placement
As you’re assigned different projects over the course of the placement, it’s important to be able to prioritise your work in order to effectively stay on top of things. Make sure you have clear deadlines set for each task you are given and complete them in order of importance, keeping in mind the time you need to do them.