Written by Harry Coombe – Trainee Solicitor
When I was asked to write this blog, I found it surprisingly difficult to decide on what the first topic should be. Obviously I could begin with the start of my journey into law, but the route to becoming a trainee solicitor and getting to this stage feels to have absorbed most of my adult life and therefore I felt the topics available to discuss were endless. I wanted to produce something that would be helpful to any aspiring trainee, to give an insight not only into life as a trainee, but also into the application processes and the various routes available for those looking at becoming a solicitor.
I am sure most trainees would agree with me that the experience does not start on the first day of your training contract. Prior to this we have completed our law degrees (or graduate diploma in law, dependant on your route), we have studied our legal practice course and we have most likely obtained our masters. Add to this the possible weeks, months or years of work experience as well as endless training contract applications and more often than not, extensive experience as paralegals. Therefore, the process of becoming a trainee can be rather laborious and at times challenging, but it is a route worth taking for anyone considering a career in law. I can honestly say I have no regrets about my choice of career.
I made a conscious decision when I was accepted to study law at university that I wanted to go on to be a lawyer. I didn’t really understand at that time what that entailed or how I would get there but I enjoyed the subject matter and I had always wanted a career where I felt I could make a positive impact on someone’s life.
You are told to start your training contract applications in your second year of university as most firms hire 2 years in advance. I followed this advice and quickly discovered the competitive nature of the legal world. It is no secret that very few people get a training contract the first time around and you have to be prepared that you aren’t the finished article the first time you apply. Firms invest lots of time and resources into their trainees. They are looking for educated, commercially aware, personable trainees who will represent the firm in a positive way. For this reason they are very particular about who they offer a training contract to. I didn’t receive my training contract offer for example until I had graduated from university and had 6 months under my belt on the LPC and masters.
I received a training contract offer which was conditional to the successful completion of the LPC and this offer was also subject to a period as a paralegal. I was fortunate that in the space of the month that I had applied to Dunn & Baker, I had:-
- been to my interview;
- been offered a training contract; and
- started in my first role as a paralegal within the clinical negligence and personal injury team here at Dunn & Baker.
Following my offer, I worked at the firm 2 days a week and studied on my LPC for the other 3. It was during this period that my knowledge of the law developed. Working in-house definitely enhanced my understanding and had a positive impact on my studies.
I worked directly under a partner at the firm who allowed me to experience practical, hands-on work. The team trusted me to have client contact, attend court hearings and to draft important legal documents. I was still very much learning (and used to seeing my work returned to me with red pen and amendments) but the team provided their time to support and mentor me.
I would recommend to anyone studying the LPC to work alongside it as it not only boosts your CV but also gives an insight into law that university studies cannot.
After 9 months as a paralegal and the successfully completion of my LPC, I was offered to start my training contract in September 2018. When September came around and I commenced my first day as a trainee, I felt the hard work and commitment had paid off.
Harry is a second seat trainee solicitor within our commercial property department and is due to qualify in September 2020.