I was offered a traineeship with Jackson Boyd and started on 3rd October 2016. I walked into the office, terrified, with no idea what to expect. The things running through my mind were “will I remember anything from university?” “How much photocopying will I have to do?” “Can I make a decent cup of coffee?”
Thinking back to the nervous wreck I was, I can scarcely believe that I am already half way through my second seat in Dispute Resolution (not my first, my second!) having worked in my first six months in the Employment team. So far I’ve found that 1) I do remember things from university; 2) I don’t have to do any photocopying and 3) the coffee is already there at the start of the meeting!
At the beginning of my traineeship, I was nervous. It was a daunting thought that everything I had learned throughout my studies would now have to be put in to practice, in an unfamiliar environment. Yes, I had previous experiences from working in law firms but this was different. I knew I had overcome the final obstacle that follows after five years of studying: I was now a trainee solicitor! 10 months on and I have got to grips with working in an office environment, working for partners and other senior members of staff and (probably most importantly!) understand the IT systems and time recording. These are probably two of the biggest hurdles that a new trainee needs to overcome. Time recording means that I have to log every 6 minutes of my day. Every day. I remember thinking there is no way that I’ll be able to record every minute of my day! However, working in an exciting, fast paced, busy firm that practices in contentious litigation proved me wrong.
My traineeship at Jackson Boyd has taught me more than any year at university. The best advice I can give to any law student is that there is such a massive gap between “the law” you learn whilst studying and “the law” you do in practice. You are not expected to know the legislation off by heart or be able to recite case law off the top of your head. You are expected to have an idea where to begin and exhaust as many solutions as possible. It is likely your first attempt will not be accepted as the final result but I have learned to ask questions (although sometimes I worry I ask too many!) if the solution is not first obvious to me. I am comfortable in doing so because of the friendly, hard-working support network available at Jackson Boyd. I am constantly learning throughout my traineeship at Jackson Boyd from a legal team with valuable expertise in a range of different disciplines.
So far, my litigation traineeship has pushed me out my comfort zone and provided a smooth transition from the Diploma to real life practice. I have enjoyed the responsibility of handling my own cases which are supervised by a Partner. This means I have the opportunity to learn on the job and deal with a case all the way through. I have developed a core skill set and my confidence has grown whilst training at Jackson Boyd. These skills are transferable, not only to my next seat in the Personal Injury Department, but through my whole career in law. The work is varied. I would say that I research, on a daily basis, a topic or drafted a piece of work which I have never heard of before. I have been able to shadow the solicitors in Court and at the Employment Tribunal. I have instructed counsel and taken endless notes – there is nothing that I won’t write down…just in case! All of this will hopefully stand me in good stead for my first appearance in court (even if it does still give me a little bit of fear!).
Having attended at Court and the Employment Tribunal, I have learned that what happens on “The Good Wife” is not real life; it is much less dramatic and takes a lot longer! I have also learned that the Employment Tribunal is far more informal compared with the Sheriff Court or Court of Session. In the Employment Tribunal solicitors address the bench while seated, while in the Sheriff Court solicitors must stand or would risk a strict telling-off from the Sheriff. If I had not had the opportunity to shadow my employment colleagues, I may have found myself in the position of standing up in the Employment Tribunal and addressing the judge as My Lord or My Lady!
As a trainee, you experience challenging situations. When faced with a difficult task, my advice would be to remember that you will learn from it and you will face a similar situation in the future. I have enjoyed building rapport with clients, providing them support and achieving the best possible outcome for them. This approach I have learned from training at Jackson Boyd.
I have enjoyed my traineeship so far and, although it can be high pressured at times the experiences are rewarding. I am excited to gain greater exposure in the world of litigation and look forward to my second year (hopefully with a successful first Court appearance!).