When you research and apply to a law firm for a placement and training contract, you’ll have scoured the website and read up on the clients and cases. But there is nothing quite like experiencing the firm for yourself on a summer placement scheme.
In this post I’ll be discussing two key areas where you’ll develop your knowledge, as a result of completing a placement.
(Emily Ablitt, trainee solicitor)
The first is learning more about the clients and work that you will be involved with as a trainee solicitor. The second is immersing yourself into the culture and values of the firm and working out whether that environment is the right fit for you.
Clients and work
On your placement at Shoosmiths you will be sat with your whole team in an open plan office, surrounded by people working at different levels and on numerous tasks. Completing a placement in an open-plan environment means you will have the chance to learn how team members have varying styles in the way they work and how they deal with clients.
You’ll be invited to participate in meetings and calls (with your team members as well as clients), as well as get involved with more traditional work such as research.
Often, applying and completing a placement scheme at a full-service firm will provide you with a great overview into lots of areas of law, and so if you’re unsure on which direction you’d like to pursue, I’d always recommend looking for a firm with a wide breadth of service areas.
Completing a placement scheme provides you with an opportunity to figure out the level of client interaction that you’re likely to have as a trainee, and you’ll also learn about clients who are not listed on the website (often due to confidentiality agreements).
At Shoosmiths, there is a big emphasis on client service, and being within reach and being responsive.
One of the things I liked most about completing a placement was that I could see whether the firm’s message on the website matched the environment and the people in the office. I found this to be the case at Shoosmiths, with values being promoted on the website, but in force throughout the workforce. This level of understanding will be invaluable when interviewing at the firm and no doubt you’ll feel more at ease talking about the firm when you’ve experience it first-hand, rather than repeating information you’ve read on the website.
Culture and values – how do you fit in?
Whilst the team-orientated and friendly approach that Shoosmiths boasts is right for me (and which I experienced on my placement), a placement scheme provides a chance for the firm to see if you’re the right fit for them, and for you to see if it’s somewhere you can see yourself working.
You may know instantly, or it may take you a few experiences to work out what you want for your future. There is no right or wrong answer, it’s a very personal choice. Be honest with yourself, and embrace the experience to enable you to make the right choice for you.
Think about how the location of the office will impact upon your work-life balance, how long will it take you to travel, and how will you get there? If you are travelling a long distance to reach the office, will this impact on your ability to stick around after work for social events, or work late if needed? Putting yourself forward for events, networking and extra work could be a key way to help you stand out and demonstrate your commitment to the firm, and a career in law.
Having the chance to experience working life and culture in an office environment where you will eventually have your interview or assessment centre will also help you feel at ease at that pivotal moment in your career, as well as helping you to stand out when discussing your understanding of the firm’s business operations and your motivation for wanting a training contract.
Things to think about while on your placement:
- Does the reality of working in the firm live up to your expectations?
- Are employees genuinely happy? And is staff turnover low?
- Is the quality of work and the level of client contact as you expected?
- Does the supervision give you an indication of the level of training you’ll receive as a trainee solicitor?
- Can you see yourself working at the firm long term?
- Do you feel like a valued member of the team (even on your placement?)
- Does the experience leave you feeling inspired, enthused and excited?
- Don’t forget that the legal world can be small. You never know where you’ll be applying to (or working) in a few years’ time and you’ll never know who you’ll crosspaths with again. Make sure your experience is a useful one, and you give it your all - even if you discover that a firm isn’t for you, the way you respond to tasks and your attitude to the work will be extremely useful moving forwards in your career.
How to apply for a placement at Shoosmiths
Shoosmiths’ summer placements will take place the week commencing Monday 3rd and the 10th June 2019. Application forms to apply can be found online here. The deadline to apply is 28th February 2019.
To hear more about what a placement at Shoosmiths is like, take a look at Emily Bowler’s blog.
You can also read Robert’s blog discussing how work experience helped him secure his training contract.
If you have any questions you can email us at [email protected] or have a look at some frequently asked questions .