Whether for a new university or a new job, induction weeks are so chock full of information that it can be difficult to take it all in. From productivity to dairy (yes you read that right!), Victoria shares her top five facts from her training contract induction week.
I joined Shoosmiths in September 2019 as a trainee solicitor, along with 28 others in my cohort.
Our first week was spent together, on ‘induction’ to the firm across two of the firm’s centrally located offices.
As a new starter, the induction week is a chance to get to know key people in the business straight away. It also allows you to get to grips with the IT systems, and become fully immersed in the firm’s strategy, culture and values. All of this I expected, but what I didn’t expect was the following five facts.
Fact 1: You are 23% more productive if you take 15 minutes to reflect at the end of each day
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘work smarter, not harder’ but it finally hit home when I heard this fact. As a trainee, you are required to keep a trainee diary. This documents what you have been working on and how it has improved your skills as a lawyer. Not only is this diary vital for keeping track of training, but it turns out that it will save you time in the long run. The idea is based on critical reflection. By identifying what worked for you today, you can take the good practices into tomorrow and leave the not so good in the past. And all you need is 15 minutes!
Fact 2: Roughly 20% of Shoosmiths’ work is private client
Our week kicked off with a welcome from Peter Duff, Chairman of Shoosmiths. As we are all aware, Shoosmiths is a nationally renowned commercial law firm. It boasts a huge range of services from acquisition finance to employment, from planning law to real estate, to name but a few. But what I did not anticipate was that roughly 20% of the business’ work was private client, or more accurately ‘personal advisory services’. This team focuses on the needs of individuals such as will preparation or personal conveyancing, to complement the other commercial services that Shoosmiths offers. I’m sure this is just the first of many Shoosmiths facts I’ll learn over the next two years.
Fact 3: We are all slightly lactose intolerant
We ended the first day with a talk on good nutrition. We then headed off to a novel bonding session of hot yoga just across the road at Sweat Studios. We all learnt the food pyramid at school, though I certainly needed reminding. But one thing I had forgotten, was that dairy products should form only a very small part of your diet. Why? It turns out that as you grow older, there is no longer a need to process lactose in milk. As a result, many of us no longer produce the enzyme needed to digest it. For an office that runs on tea and coffee, perhaps we should give herbal teas a chance.
Fact 4: A happy client will recommend you to five others, an unhappy client will complain about you to 23 others
The week included making a start on some PSC (Professional Skills Course) training with a day workshop on client care. As an introduction to how important client relationships are, we were told this fact about how clients communicate their views on services they’ve received. Even for a good solicitor, the statistics don’t bode well if you pass your off-day onto the client. A client has the potential to both encourage and curtail future incoming business. So remember: a client’s relationship with the firm doesn’t end when you close their file.
Fact 5: The maximum number of words to use in a sentence is 25
Communication is one of the most important skills you have as a lawyer. But after years at university reading long judgements, it can be easy to rely on long winded sentences to explain yourself. In a workshop on top communication skills, I took away the nugget that the optimum number of words per sentence is 25. Readability studies suggest that when sentences are 30 words or more, 95% of people have to re-read the sentence to understand it. Where sentences use 20 words, just 5% have to re-read the sentence. The lesson here is to ask yourself: is that word really necessary? Flowery language and elongated sentences may look clever, but serves little purpose if the reader can’t understand your message. (And yes, I have counted all the sentences in this blog!)
These are just my top five of the many facts that I learnt on my first week as a trainee solicitor. I have no doubt that the next two years are going to produce many, many more.
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