Posted by Elizabeth Painter, Trainee solicitor
Dear Diary: A day in my life as a trainee solicitor
Dear Diary, I’m a new trainee, at a new firm, working in a new department….
Dear Diary, I’m a new trainee, at a new firm, working in a new department…! At Royds Withy King, the Employment team has a vast range of expertise advising businesses and individuals. Fortunately for me, the result is that each day in the office is different and I get plenty of exposure to an array of interesting work. Here is an insight into a day I had during my first few weeks with the Employment team.
My ‘average day’ started with a mandatory round of tea and coffee. But don’t panic, this isn’t a trainee solicitor job! Rather our love of caffeine means that everyone in our team takes it in turns to precariously balance a tray of drinks to and from the kitchen every few hours. Feeling caffeinated, I made my way to greet a client with my supervising solicitor. The client had come to see us regarding an employment related dispute. This is one of my favourite tasks as it’s a valuable opportunity to meet clients and develop my understanding of the real issues faced by people during and after employment. With more exposure and training, I should be able to lead such a meeting myself.
Next up, I was asked to draft a negotiation letter, under supervision, on behalf of one of our clients. Exercises like this are a great way to to gain experience of mediation tactics. I can also work on those persuasive writing skills! Where employment disputes arise, negotiation is preferable to litigation to help clients manage their legal costs. This means that the early steps are really important for setting the tone for ongoing discussions
I then began work on preparing advice for a client in relation to the pension auto-enrolment requirements and their responsibilities as an employer. It was interesting to research the topic and, guided by senior members of the team, look at how to apply the information.
Full of knowledge from my research and feeling concerned about the fact I have only just started paying into a pension, I moved on to submit an early conciliation form for a client. Starting early conciliation is a mandatory pre-litigation step for parties wanting to bring an employment claim in the tribunal. Volunteering to complete the form was a handy way to get more familiar with this stage.
My last action of the day was to review an employment contract and provide the client with comments on whether it is up-to-date with the current law. A great chance to get exposure to as many obscure contract clauses as possible (and trust me, there can be lots!). It is also a good opportunity to review how to translate legal jargon into clear, coherent comments that the client can easily understand and put into action.
Although my working day was technically done, I left the office to catch the train to Bristol for a speed-networking event. I’ll admit I was really nervous about the prospect of talking about myself and my work at the firm within my first two weeks of working here. But throwing myself in the deep-end turned out to be a really worthwhile experience for improving my confidence. It was a fun evening full of stimulating chats with other professionals and just the right amount of wine. I will definitely be keen to take part in similar events again!
As I made my way back to Bath I felt content that everything I had carried out would substantially contribute towards my training. I had the opportunity to develop my communication skills, worked on my negotiation tactics, researched a new legal subject and familiarised myself with the procedure for starting early conciliation. I reviewed an employment contract and I strengthened my networking skills. All in all another varied day with plenty of interesting work!