Musical Chairs: choosing your training contract seats
Until recently, questions like “where do you see yourself qualifying?” and “what seats would you like to do?” filled me with dread. After completing my degree, LPC and working as a paralegal, I expected to have a clear idea when I started my training contract of where I would like to qualify. However, for me (and many of my fellow trainees) this wasn’t the case.
Three months into my training contract and I’ve realised I don’t need to decide every move of my legal career from day one. My first seat is in Taylor Vinters’ Commercial Technology team. The seat is varied and so far I’ve worked on brand protection, drafting policies for start-up tech companies, data protection, and sourcing advice for client’s working internationally. Working in a fairly general seat has helped focus the areas of work that I enjoy and overall realise that I like to come to work not knowing what problems I’ll be asked to solve.
With only four, six month seats to complete before qualification, it’s tricky to know what areas of law you would like to sample. Thankfully, Taylor Vinters takes a proactive approach in introducing different training seats available through a series of presentations. A fee earner from the team will explain the work and what a typical day in the life of a trainee will look like. By attending and asking questions in these sessions, I have begun to get a better feel for the sort of work expected in each team.
As well as practice area presentations, each Taylor Vinters trainee is assigned a career coach. The coaches are partners at the firm who can give professional advice and act as a single point of contact throughout the training contract. In my first mentor meeting I relayed my worries of choosing my next seat and my ultimate qualification. My mentor explained that my concerns were perfectly normal and there would be plenty of opportunities to discover what seats I would enjoy and those that I should avoid. I was encouraged to talk to other trainees, associates and partners to learn as much as possibly about the varying practice areas across the firm. Having put this into practice, I have already begun to whittle down my potential options.
Being proactive has also helped me discover what seats I might enjoy. There are regular training sessions, networking events and presentations being given by different lawyers across the firm. These have really helped me gain an insight into seats which I otherwise might not have considered. Showing an interest has led to being invited to other events and being given work from other lawyers throughout the firm, all of which is helping to inform the decision for my next training contract seat.
Above all, it’s important to realise that the lawyers that you work with have all been through the same process. There’s plenty of opportunity to ask questions and discuss the different seat options, ask for advice and get involved with different teams from day one. I’m now not nearly as worried about discussing where I’d like to go next or even possible qualification options, and who knows…I could even end up back with Commercial Technology.
Written by Lewis Ewers – First Year Trainee.