All change! How to approach your seat rotations during your training contract.
Abi Sutcliffe started her training contract in 2017 after working as a Conveyancing Assistant for the firm. Now in her final seat, she gives her top tips for getting the best from your training contract.
“One of the most challenging but rewarding aspects of my training contract has been seat rotations, not only in terms of technical progression, but also personal development and self awareness. It is important to keep an open mind when choosing and changing seats. You might not always get your first choice, but you may be surprised to discover you enjoy an area you were previously unsure of.
Choosing your next seat
Your training contract is your greatest opportunity to acquire and build key skills and experience during your journey to qualification and hopefully a long and happy legal life beyond! It is important to put some thought into which area(s) of law you might like to experience. If you know where you wish to qualify, perhaps chose areas which complement each other. If not (which is normal!) this is an opportunity to practice areas which interest you, or that you think might suit your skills or personality.
The training format at Royds Withy King is four, 6-month seats. The firm matches trainee’s seat choices with the available seats. I have been encouraged to undertake a broad mix of seats, exposing me to both contentious and non-contentious work for both private and commercial clients.
How did my seats compare?
Trainees will agree that starting each new seat is like starting a new job. Every move will keep you on your toes, not only with fresh faces and names to learn (and how they take their tea!) but also with various approaches to file management; stylistic preferences; levels of client contact; time in court or levels of trainee responsibility to name a few.
My first seat was in Clinical Negligence. This seat requires an enthusiasm for the law and medicine. You have to be patient as matters can take years to settle and have an eye for detail. As my first seat, I didn’t know what to expect but I definitely felt like a ‘real lawyer’! From drafting instructions and reviewing medical records to attending a round table meeting to negotiate in a settlement relation to a birth injury, this seat was an excellent place to start.
My second seat in Employment required a meticulous attention to detail, an analytical nature and thirst for knowledge in a fast evolving area. Acting for employers and employees, there was lots of drafting and frequent client contact. I was able to attend an employment tribunal which was great experience. I also led my own supervised meeting to advise a client on a settlement agreement.
In my third seat in Family, I had barely sat down before we were off to court! My seat involved Children (public and private law) and Matrimonial work, and was people focused, solution based and fast paced. It was imperative to be able to work independently and as part of a team, with a level of resilience to cope with difficult situations.
My final seat is a split seat, with 3 months in Real Estate before returning to Family prior to qualifying in March 2019. Real Estate is a transactional area of law and involves strategic thinking and a pragmatic, commercial approach. There is such a variety of individual and corporate clients in transactions worth thousands to multi-millions!
My top tips for seat rotations
- Keep an open mind and don’t be disappointed if you don’t get your first choice. It doesn’t preclude you from practicing that area in the future, and you are guaranteed to develop transferable skills to showcase in your next seat!
- Talk to people. The chances are you only know an area from your experience on the LPC, whereas the day to day is much different. Will you have much client contact? Will you run files? Ask current trainees, Partners, assistants. Everyone is approachable and wants you to do well!
- Be open and honest. If you feel very strongly about a specific seat, speak to your training supervisor or HR.
- Don’t throw away your LPC textbooks! You never know when they might prove helpful (though check the law is up to date!)
- Work hard. You will only realise the potential of your training contract by making the most out of it and it’s rewarding to leave a good impression. “