Whether your training contract is your first full-time job or you have previously worked in a law firm, a number of emotions will be experienced in the build up to your first week. Here's how to cope with that very first week as a trainee solicitor.
At Shoosmiths, the training contract begins with a one-week induction spent with all other new trainees from across the firm. We spent our week between the Birmingham and Milton Keynes office which was a good balance of getting to know people from both locations. The week includes presentations from key members of the firm (including heads of division and directors), group discussions, activities to get to know the cohort, networking lunches, informal dinners and evening drinks. It is a fantastic way to get to know the other trainees and to be welcomed into the firm.
The aim of the week is to ease you into your new role by equipping you with all of the information you need to hit the ground running. You will be introduced to a number of key contacts, such as the graduate recruitment team, the wellbeing manager, and your local HR Manager - these are important people to remember, as they will be your first point of call if you have any queries throughout your training contract.
I was apprehensive about meeting the rest of the trainee intake, as I had only met a few of them previously. Shoosmiths run a number of events between you receiving your offer and starting your training contract, so my advice would be to attend as many of these as possible, to help put you at ease for that first week. If you are joining Shoosmiths, everyone you meet will be like-minded, friendly and easy to talk to. A top tip is to ensure you take the time to get to know every single person in your intake and start building a network of friends as well as colleagues.
It is important to remember that your fellow trainees will be a valuable network for the rest of your career. The importance of building relationships with those in your intake cannot be understated as there will undoubtedly be times during your training contract (and perhaps after) that you will need to help or advice from one of them.
After such a great first week getting to know everyone, it can feel like starting the job all over again when you join your team in your new office for your first seat. Understandably, you will want to make a positive first-impression with colleagues in your team and also with the wider office. My advice is to prepare as best you can by reviewing any relevant notes from the LPC and do background research into the department and the type of work they do.
If you have spent time as a paralegal in the firm before starting your training contract, your initial experience will be different than someone who has come straight from university, and may never have worked in a law firm before. In my situation, I was learning the absolute basics (such as how to use the systems, printers, post-room processes etc) whilst other trainees who had previous experience were helping to complete a large corporate deal. If it is your first time working in a law firm, it is easy to feel "behind" others who have experience. Rest-assured though, you will catch up quickly. Don't be afraid to let your team know about your previous experience and they will adjust the workload accordingly - there is no prejudice against those who have had little or no experience in the area previously.
Most importantly, enjoy your first week! At Shoosmiths there are a number of exciting activities, plenty of meals and lots of opportunities to get to know your new colleagues. Take your time to get to know your fellow trainees and try to relax in the knowledge that you have now started your training contract - a huge amount of work has gone towards getting to this point so savour it before your workload gets busy!
If you're starting a new role soon, you may also be interested in reading "My First Month as a Trainee Solicitor" by Rebecca Horton or "My Journey So Far" by Gabs Rodriguez-Cleary, or watching our latest advice videos.
If you have any specific questions, you can contact the graduate recruitment team via twitter or email.
Click here to read more posts with advice about standing out from the competition on the Shoosmiths careers blog.