Finding your feet: the first month as a trainee

  • Last updated 27-Jul-2016 15:39:08
  • By Gemma Broughall, Trainee Solicitor, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

When I learnt that I had been offered a training contract with Orrick my initial thoughts were of excitement and relief. At last I had overcome the major hurdle facing all would-be solicitors today; I had secured that elusive training contract!

Then a feeling of panic set in.

What does a trainee do?

What does it mean to be a trainee? Would I be treated as just another number? Would my life during the next two years consist of being chained to a photocopier and getting repetitive strain injury from paginating bundles? Taking the leap from law student to trainee lawyer can be a daunting prospect, but it is also an incredibly interesting and rewarding one.

I started my first seat in the corporate department at Orrick in March 2011. I had previously worked as a paralegal in the arbitration department in Orrick's Paris office, so I knew something of the culture and inner workings of the firm, which made the transition to trainee a little easier.

When I was told that I was going into corporate, I was very pleased but also a little apprehensive, as it had been sometime since I last dusted off my law school corporate notes. What if I couldn't remember anything? However, I need not have worried, as my LPC knowledge came flooding back.

Moving from LPC to a training contract

I’ve been pleased to discover that I’m putting the skills which I learnt on the LPC into practice on a daily basis. Thankfully, the tuition fees, which have left my wallet considerably lighter, and all those hours of hard work were worth it.

What has amazed me most is the steep learning curve during my first month. Right from the beginning, I’ve been involved in a variety of aspects of corporate work, ranging from working on an IPO (Initial Public Offering) to undertaking private company law work for various clients (including preparing completion documents for venture capital investments and filing forms at Companies House).

I’ve even managed to squeeze in some work summarising Italian pleadings for the litigation department.

How much does a training contract really teach?

When I reflect on my training contract diary for the first month, I realise just how many different tasks I’ve undertaken and how much I’ve learnt. I’ve been given meaningful tasks to complete on transactions, assisted at client meetings and have been in direct day-to-day contact with clients right from the word go.

After a month I really feel like I’ve settled into the rhythm of life in the office and the corporate department in particular. All levels of the firm, from senior partners through to support staff, have been incredibly friendly, welcoming and willing to share their time.

Orrick operates an open door policy (literally!), so I’ve found it very easy to approach fee earners with any queries that I have. Orrick is also a firm which very much values initiative, so if we have contributions to make then we are encouraged to voice them.

Overall my experience so far has been incredibly positive. I’ve been given an interesting and broad spectrum of legal work to do and have settled into working life as a trainee. I’m looking forward to what the future brings.

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