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My journey from land law to property in practice

I arrived to the first day of my training contract feeling a combination of first-day-of-school nerves and very keen to put my legal knowledge to good use. Although I had done some work experience at other law firms, this was my first day at Shoosmiths. 

The first thing that stood out to me was how friendly everyone was - my training principal was waiting outside to greet me and make sure I knew where to park! Throughout my first week, it felt like most of the office said hello or introduced themselves to me, and my new team made a great effort to make feel very welcome.

My first seat assignment was Real Estate. If I’m being honest, it was not at the top of my seat choices list as I did not care for land law at university. But I know the importance of always having a positive attitude, so I went into my first seat knowing that I would always try my hardest (and with a smile!) but not expecting to love the subject matter.

Within the first few days, I realised that commercial property is much different in practice than in the classroom. I was incredulous to hear many of my colleagues admit that they too had not enjoyed land law, but had ended up in commercial property. By the end of the first week, I was thoroughly enjoying the work I was being given and my opinion about commercial property was forever changed.

This really highlights the importance of always having an open mind and a positive attitude throughout your training contract. Even if you think you may not enjoy a certain seat or some of the tasks you’ve been assigned, you have the opportunity to learn – so be glad for it! You might even end up {gasp} enjoying something you thought you wouldn’t. I did!

Although my experience has been an overwhelmingly positive one, it has also come with some challenges. The first few weeks were exciting, but everything was new. It can feel overwhelming at first to have to learn the computer systems, remember everyone’s names, attend to trainee tasks and take on work that you have never done before. The thing to remember is that it gets easier as you gain more experience.

A good example of this is early on in my seat I was asked to draft a wayleave agreement. I readily agreed, even though I had never heard of a way leave agreement before! I resisted the urge to dash back to my computer and look up the answer and instead simply asked the associate who had assigned me the task. Although I felt slightly embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know something, it’s important to always ask. Trainees are not expected to arrive knowing everything, but you will be expected to get stuck in and have a go!

That being said, my first attempt at a way leave agreement came back covered in red pen. Feedback is a crucial part of your development as a trainee because it helps you improve, so never be shy to ask for it – and never take it personally. A few months later, I drafted another wayleave for one of the associates. Her only comment was “perfect.”  By learning from the earlier feedback, what started as a challenge ended up as a highlight.

Another one of my seat highlights was the first matter I independently saw through from inception to completion with only light-touch supervision. I was grateful to be entrusted to progress the matter, and it felt amazing to reach completion. There were some challenges along the way, but what I learned from them helped me better manage future matters.

Each trainee will have different challenges and highlights during their own journey, but as Arthur Ashe once said: 'Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.' Therefore:

- Keep an open mind;
- Always be positive;
- Ask questions;
- Welcome feedback;
- And finally, always enjoy the journey!

To hear a further trainee account of their journey to date, have a read of Gabs’ blog

Ben’s blog on how to prepare for these challenges will also be an interesting read. 

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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