Now in her third seat as a trainee solicitor, Victoria Potts reflects on her experience as a trainee solicitor through the coronavirus pandemic and highlights the importance of mental wellbeing for trainees.
Being a trainee solicitor is tough enough at the best of times. Every six months, you essentially start a new job with a new team, in a new area of law and sometimes even in a new office. Now imagine doing all of that during an international pandemic! So more than ever, it is vital that trainee solicitors and junior team members alike look after their mental health. As a mental health champion at Shoosmiths, I’ve been very conscious of how personalised and prevalent poor mental wellbeing has been over the past few months. Below, I’ve listed some tips for maintaining your mental wellbeing as a trainee solicitor which I hope will help you in some small way and remove the stigma attached to mental health.
Top tips for maintaining mental wellbeing
- Remember your feelings are valid.
It’s a difficult time for everyone at the moment; whether that’s living alone or living with your whole family, living under local restrictions or visiting a café for the first time. This is a new world for everyone and there isn’t a right or wrong way to feel about it. We’re having to adapt faster than we ever thought possible, so it’s no surprise we may feel overwhelmed.
- Maintain a work-life balance.
This is good advice inside or outside of a pandemic! In fact, Shoosmiths’ dedication and appreciation of a life outside of work was one of the key reasons I applied to the firm. Being able to switch off in the evenings and weekends enables you to recharge and return to work more productive. Of course, there will always be days where you may need to work through a lunch or for an extra few hours in the evening, but these should be the exception not the rule. In a backdrop of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to switch off and enjoying doing things you love.
- Maintain good dialogue with your supervisor.
Your supervisor is there to support you through your training and learning and to ensure that you are getting the most out of your training contract. It can be difficult as a junior trying to impress to express how you’re feeling about the situation to someone more senior, but they have been trained to listen and are committed to ensuring you excel in your role.
- Keep connected with your other trainees.
Touching base with other trainees and juniors, whether inside or outside of your team or firm, will help you feel more connected and supported. If you’re still attending the office, you may be able to have a (socially distanced) coffee and catch up, or, as my trainee cohort have done, set up a weekly video chat on a Friday afternoon to check in on how everyone’s weeks have been. This is also a great way to induct new trainees into the cohort who may otherwise feel out of the loop.
- Take some time out of each day to assess how you’re feeling.
I still recall that in my Shoosmiths induction week, we had a session on how just a few minutes thinking about the work you had done that day can improve your work the next day. I think the same can apply to mental health. It only needs to be a few moments, maybe on the bus or as you’re picking up dinner, but think about what it is you’re feeling. This can help you identify what aspect of the day is causing you stress or worry, and then put in place mechanisms to protect yourself going forward.
- If you need more support, speak to your HR team.
At the end of the day, that is what they are there for! HR teams have a great set of resources for staff to access for free, and they can also help facilitate discussions with your supervisor if you feel you need more support in your role.
If you are interested to learn more about mental health in the workplace have a read of Amy’s blog here.
If you have any questions about the application process, or managing your mental health you can email us at [email protected] or have a look at some frequently asked questions here.