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Balancing corporate responsibility and pro bono

Whilst the day to day work during your training contract is extremely important and requires prioritising, balancing all the extra responsibilities such as CR and pro bono can be a challenge. Amy, a second year trainee provides her top tips to achieve a successful balance.

For me, a training contract at Shoosmiths never just consisted of the day-to-day work.  Whilst the day-to-day work is extremely important and needs prioritising, I have always seen the ‘job’ as inclusive of the extra trainee responsibilities from the outset – they are part of being a trainee solicitor and shouldn’t be much of a surprise when you begin your training contract.

Getting involved with corporate responsibility (CR) and pro bono work has its advantages for both you and the firm. You can help raise the firm’s profile whilst developing your own skills and personal brand. As a trainee you are not expected to reinvent the wheel but any ideas you do bring are welcomed and listened to.

Some benefits of getting involved with CR and pro bono work alongside day-to-day work are:

  • It can help you work out which areas of law you like or don’t like as a trainee. This can give you further ideas for seat choices and potentially confirm an area of law you wish to qualify into.
  • You will work with people of all levels from different teams and sometimes different offices. This is a great opportunity as a trainee, as your name and personal brand is put out there. You can learn from some of the best as well as putting your ideas and thoughts on the table.
  • You are helping the local community and those who cannot afford legal advice. It makes you a well-rounded person and shows that you care about making a difference.
  • With pro bono clinics, trainees will do the research and give the oral advice to the client. The case is your case and you have to take responsibility for it. Your supervisor will discuss the legal position and help when needed but you are given full responsibility and independence with your client appointments. This is excellent development for trainee solicitors and is a great talking point on your CV when it comes to qualification.

Your main priority as a trainee is your work and performing well, so balancing all the extra responsibilities such as CR and pro bono can sometimes be a challenge. My top tips for achieving balance are:

  • Communicate – let your supervisor and team know early on if you are involved with any CR or pro bono work, which will take up time or is offsite for example.
  • Note down key dates – put key dates and times in your calendar and diary and reminders leading up to the events. This will ensure you keep any preparation on track and can effectively prioritise your work and any other responsibilities.
  • Combine normal day-to-day work with CR and pro bono – if you are enjoying the work your current team does, see what pro bono opportunities are available within the team. You might be able to assist, enabling you to improve your skills and potentially work with others in your wider team.
  • Time record your CR and pro bono – at Shoosmiths pro bono work is time recorded under a special code and still counts towards your matter related time.
  • Ask for feedback – providing pro bono advice or organising CR activities involves skills that are applicable to your day-to-day work. Asking for feedback on these activities may improve your performance and allow you to develop valuable skills further.

You can find out more about Shoosmiths’ commitment to corporate responsibility and pro bono in the firm’s Corporate Responsibility Reports which can be found here.

For a further snapshot into the responsibilities of a trainee solicitor please read Chloe’s blog or Amy’s blog about how to think like a client.

To apply for a summer placement or training contract click here, for anything else you can email us at [email protected] or have a look at some frequently asked questions here.

Disclaimer

This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

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