Surviving your first few months…
The first few months of a training contract can be the most challenging. Nevertheless, it’s worth keeping in mind that you are not the first and nor will you be the last to face these challenges. In this edition of the trainee blog, Wilfred Marodza suggests a few practical considerations that might help ease the transition:
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill
A vital ingredient to any trainee solicitor’s success is genuine enthusiasm for the different departments, and types of work they carry out. It should come as no surprise that a can-do approach can go a long way to endearing you to your colleagues and improve your experience as you progress through the firm’s various departments.
A practical application of your enthusiasm could involve offering to help with all manner of tasks, ranging from spending time in the copy room to struggling through some challenging drafting. It is important that you take an interest in how the department operates so that you can identify where you can add value, and when necessary take the initiative by anticipating the needs of your colleagues.
Be Prepared and organised
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
Managing your work load and learning to prioritise your tasks effectively, will take your entire career to master, if at all. Nevertheless, there are a few things you could implement as a trainee solicitor to ensure you give yourself the best chance of staying on top of your work.
Prepare a ‘to-do list’ and keep key dates diarised. This is a simple and effective way of making sure that you are aware of what needs to be done and when it should be done. Also, where appropriate divide tasks up into manageable chunks to ensure you stay motivated. Ultimately, you will find a system that works for you, but you will need to invest some time and thought into how you intend to manage your work load.
Lastly, work hard and take on as many tasks as you can manage, but ensure you do not agree to deadlines you cannot meet and use all the support on offer.
Own your mistakes and listen actively to feedback
“Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.” – John Dewy
There is no doubt that you’ll make several mistakes during your training contract. The mistakes will range from ‘oopsy daisy’ moments to the more serious omissions, but see these moments as opportunities to learn and grow. During your feedback sessions own your mistakes. Listen actively to the feedback you receive and ask questions to understand the whys of your errors. As a trainee take the opportunity to tap into your supervisor’s thinking to understand where you have gone wrong and most importantly how to avoid making the same mistakes again.
As a trainee solicitor recognise that the goal is to build your legal and procedural knowledge and expand your skills. It goes without saying though this is not a licence to deliver work to your supervisor that hasn’t been carefully scrutinised.
Be yourself. Be positive.
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” – Oscar Wilde
Finally, always remember to maintain positivity and to be authentic. Learning to be comfortable with being yourself will inevitably lead to a positive outlook, which will in turn be the foundation for all the future successes in your career.
Ultimately, it is far better to focus your energy on the possibility of achieving something worthwhile, as opposed to the energy sapping thoughts about failure.