Securing my training contract in 2016 was an incredible feeling. However, in the back of my mind I had concerns; could I be the trainee they wanted, working all hours, bending over backwards without showing the slightest muscle twitch, never seeing my kids…
Prior to starting my training contract, I was a paralegal in the Nottingham office. My working hours were 8 am – 4 pm with half an hour for lunch. At busier times, I would work later but generally, I stuck to my hours. My hours differed to most legal advisers and were tailored to my personal situation. My situation involved two young children.
Working hours as a trainee at Shoosmiths are 9 am – 5.30 pm so already I was arriving home an hour and a half later. It required a little shuffling around of childcare however I’m fortunate that my parents are close by to help and my husband works shifts which enable him to do a lot of the school runs.
As a trainee, I have worked from home a number of times. There are tasks that sometimes, you just need to get your head down and get on with and doing this at home, without interruption, can be hugely beneficial. Agile working has also allowed me to attend school events far easier than having to battle with the morning commute or take annual leave. I know from other Shoosmiths trainees, some teams are flexible on agile working subject to business need, one team actively encourages working from home one day a week, and for others, it’s not as frequent due to the practice area. Of course, it’s important to understand as a trainee there’s so much to learn and a lot of this can be done simply sitting in an open plan office within earshot of your team.
Those of my colleagues that have children are incredibly organised as they know they must leave the office at a set time to pick up children from nursery or the childminder and that is something that you cannot be late for. I have known of nurseries charging late fees by the minute, so you learn quickly how to be on time!
I recently attended an event which involved a panel of senior legal advisers from firms based within Nottingham responding to questions asked by the audience in a Question Time setting. Over the course of the evening there were two questions raised which focused on balancing life as a solicitor with having a family. There were five lawyers on the panel, four women and one male and only one had children (and that was the male). Once the questions were over, I made a beeline for the person who raised the question to let them know that the panel there that night was not representative of life at Shoosmiths.
Applicants should not be put off a legal career because they have other responsibilities. Yes, it’s hard balancing everything; wanting to be the perfect parent (there is no such thing) and being the perfect trainee (again, this is rather subjective) but actually, showing that you can spin all the plates is something firms want to see in applicants so use this to your advantage! Provided you are organised, open with your supervisors and are able do your work (wherever that may be) you will certainly thrive in a career in law.
If you previously missed it, then it will be worth watching our #ShoosmithsLIVE
video about getting a great work life balance.
If you have any questions about a career at Shoosmiths you can email us at [email protected]
or have a look at some frequently asked questions here