Wed 02 Aug 2023

Lessons learned from my legal traineeship

As a law student, it is challenging to imagine how years of essays and exams will translate to life as a trainee solicitor at a law firm.

This was perhaps particularly challenging for my trainee cohort, many of whom graduated at the height of a global pandemic, and applied for and accepted their training contracts in late 2020. Thankfully, by the time we started our traineeships with Morton Fraser in September 2022, the world had evolved entirely. We have benefitted from the hybrid workplace, which has allowed us to be in the office as much as we wish, able to learn by osmosis from our colleagues around us. 

As the first year of my training contract draws to a close, and Morton Fraser prepare to welcome a new cohort of trainees starting in September, I've taken time to reflect on lessons learnt throughout my first two seats in Real Estate and Infrastructure (Property in Pensions) and Commercial Litigation and Debt Recovery. 

Get to know your team

It goes without saying that each different seat will allow you the opportunity to work closely with a new training manager, and a new team. As well as getting to know your immediate team, we have plenty of opportunities to attend events which allow us to socialise with a wider group of colleagues. We host two annual firm-wide get togethers for our summer AGM and Christmas party, as well as many smaller events throughout the year. Since September, I've attended a bowling evening, ceramic painting event, bingo night, and several staff drinks in our Glasgow office - something for everyone, and more often than not attendees benefit from a free pizza or two…

At Morton Fraser, trainees also have the opportunity to take ownership of organising and hosting social events which is another brilliant opportunity to get to know people from across the firm, who you may otherwise never meet. Building a variety of friendships across the firm is valuable and allows you to share ideas or ask for advice from people with a wealth of knowledge and experience - even if they are outside of your immediate team.

Get organised, stay organised

At Morton Fraser, trainees have the opportunity to progress their own matters, under the supervision of their manager and other senior team members. Morton Fraser strike an excellent balance of giving trainees responsibility, as well as providing a supportive environment to learn and develop. Trainees are responsible for checking the progress of their own matters, actioning next steps, and oftentimes corresponding directly with clients and other parties. Initially this may be daunting, but it is a brilliant opportunity to build your understanding of the area you are working in and build your confidence in progressing matters. Having excellent organisational skills is essential and ensures you are able to keep track of your matters without becoming overwhelmed. Everyone has their own way of staying organised, and your fellow trainees and senior team members are happy to share their tips in this regard.

Every seat is a learning opportunity

Many trainees commence their training contracts with a set idea of what area of law they wish to qualify into. At Morton Fraser, we are encouraged to experience a range of seats across four core divisions: Corporate, Litigation, Private Client and Real Estate and Infrastructure. In determining our seat rota, our preferences are taken into consideration, but every seat provides a unique learning opportunity to trainees. Prior to commencing my traineeship, I was naive to how different divisions work together in practice, and commercially it is important to understand these interactions and crossovers. As well as this, you may work with multiple teams during the course of a particular seat. During my current seat in Commercial Litigation and Debt Recovery, I have been able to assist my colleagues in the Personal Injury team and even attended a criminal trial to observe on their behalf. A traineeship only constitutes two years of what, for many, will be a legal career spanning several decades. Take the chance to experience an area of law you may never have considered - you never know, you may grow to love it!

My training contract (so far) has been rewarding and I have learnt so much. I look forward to continuing my professional growth within my third seat as a Secondee with one of our key banking clients in Edinburgh. 

To find out more about our traineeships, please visit our dedicated page. 

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