Recording a diary might seem like just another job on your long list of trainee solicitor tasks. But, as well as being an SRA requirement, it can be a great way to reflect on your journey of learning
The requirement to maintain a record of your training
- contains details of the work performed;
- records how the trainee has acquired, applied and developed their skills by reference to the Practice Skills Standards and the Principles;
- records the trainee’s reflections on his or her performance and development plans; and
- is verified by the individual(s) supervising the trainee'
The Practice Skills Standards that should be referenced and linked to the experience you have gained, include skills like drafting, interviewing and advising, advocacy and oral presentation, and dispute resolution. It’s well worth reading up on these before starting your training.
(Amy Leech, trainee solicitor)
The SRA does not state exactly how trainees should record their training, just that a training record must be maintained. At Shoosmiths, trainees record their entries on Fresh Unity, which is essentially an online version of the diary. It has standard areas where trainees can enter details about the task and their reflections, tick to show which SRA Outcomes/Practice Skills Standards are relevant and also has tailored areas to show the firm’s own Department/ Practice Areas.
The application is, simple to use, fully secure and can be used across multiple platforms (including laptops, and mobile phones). Trainees are encouraged to make regular entries and think about the task in detail (the work itself, the relevant SRA Outcomes, if the work was contentious or non contentious and also to reflect on the key learnings).
Keeping the diary updated
Life as a trainee is not any easy one. You are likely to be getting to grips with new areas of law, receiving work from different people within the firm and generally trying to balance several extra trainee responsibilities. It is therefore important to keep on top of your trainee diary and ensure you add entries on a weekly basis.
Some good tips for doing this are:
Keep a notebook on your desk and jot down any significant pieces of work as soon as you complete them. This way, even if you have a busy week, you will have a bank of entries at the ready to input onto the training record.
Think about the different elements of the piece of work you completed.
Was there an element of research? Was there an element of drafting? If the elements were substantial enough, you potentially may be able to get two entries out of one piece of work.
Put reminders in your calendar such as a half hour slot each Friday afternoon to ensure you set some time aside to add entries. At Shoosmiths, the graduate recruitment team share a record once a month with the trainees and training principals which includes the number of entries made by each individual – this is another reason why keeping on top of your trainee diary is so important!
Why is the diary useful?
Apart from it being a compulsory requirement of a training contract, keeping a trainee diary can be incredibly helpful for other reasons. Here at Shoosmiths, trainees have a mid and end of seat review. When writing the paperwork for these reviews, referring to your trainee diary can be an excellent reminder of the pieces of work you have completed over the seat. This is also the point when your supervisor will verify your entries.
It also serves the same purpose when preparing your NQ CV when nearing the end of your training contract. A trainee diary allows you to see what areas you have lots of experience in and identify areas where you need more exposure. Therefore, although it can seem like mundane task at times, keeping your trainee diary updated is important and not something that should be pushed aside to until the last day of your training contract.
For more advice on making the most of your training contract, read Alice’s blog post “How to prepare for trainee solicitor seat reviews”
If you’d like to apply for a summer vacation placement or training contract at Shoosmiths, click here.
For anything else you, you can contact the graduate recruitment team via twitter or email.