Looking back over the last 6 months as a first seat trainee there’s been some challenges, some confusion and a touch of pressure, but there have also been triumphs, relief laughs and lots of socialising.

Let’s not sugar coat it, your first day as a trainee in an unfamiliar office, meeting dozens of new people and engaging in actual legal work with real world effects and implications is daunting to say the least.

My first seat was Banking & Finance (an area of law where I had no previous experience) in the Manchester office. The Banking & Finance team are an extremely friendly and helpful bunch who made my transition from student to trainee as smooth as possible.

At first it is easy to get a little overwhelmed and you can feel that you are more in your team’s way than there to help them. I’m pleased to say that this doesn’t last long and the more challenges that are put in front of you, the better you become and the faster you improve. You’re not expected to walk through the door as Harvey Spectre, you are there to learn. As long as you are enthusiastic, proactive and learn from your mistakes that’s the main thing.

I am amazed at how far I’ve progressed over the last 6 months in terms of my legal knowledge, ‘commercial awareness’ and general confidence in the office environment. There is a fear that with each seat rotation you are starting from scratch. To a degree that is true, especially if your new department is radically different, but the skills I picked up in my first seat have helped me feel comfortable in my second seat much quicker.

Some examples of things I have done in my first 6 months as a Banking & Finance trainee are:

  • From early on in my seat (actually my very first day as it happens!) I was invited and encouraged to join the Banking & Finance team at networking events. Similarly all Manchester Gateley trainees are members of the Manchester Trainee Solicitors Group. Through this membership we had a fantastic winter ball at the town hall where we got to meet trainees from a wide range of firms across Manchester, numerous cocktail evenings, comedy shows and a particularly useful inter-professional social where we met other non-lawyer young professionals
  • Late nights in the office are very much the exception rather than the norm. I worked late to attend a completion meeting on a job that had been building for a good couple of years. The experience was exciting and intense. The energy within the team is great when so many hours of work are finally coming to a head and you have multiple parties all trying to get everything signed up as efficiently as possible
  • I planned and attended the Christmas party for the Corporate, Banking & Finance and Tax teams. We had a fantastic Thai meal followed by a lots of drinks ending in a karaoke bar in the heart of Chinatown. The firm runs lots of charity events and trainees can get involved in helping to organise these. The firm also holds social club events including bowling nights, pie and ale nights and pub quizzes.

Some highlights of my first 6 months include: getting lots of client interaction through attending and helping out with numerous completion meetings (thankfully not all late at night); and towards the end of my seat I was able to run some of my own smaller files (under supervision of course).

Overall my first 6 months has been an at times challenging, but a very rewarding experience with a good amount of fun involved too!

This post was edited by Lewis Peck. For more information, email blogs@gateleyuk.com.

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