A law firm for life

Trainee Solicitor Hannah McIntosh discusses the things she’s learned so far as a trainee at The McKinstry Company

During my time at University, I found that the experiences that people had during their traineeships were not often discussed. The key issue was obtaining the elusive training contract then once you had the job, you then considered what you would actually have to do. After being in my traineeship for almost one year now, I have picked up some key tips that I wish I knew about before I started my traineeship.

1. Listen to your supervisor.

This may seem like an obvious thing to do however when you are shadowing a solicitor, I have found it is important not to only listen to the instructions you are given for the work you are doing. But to also listen to the way they speak to clients, their support staff and colleagues. Starting as a trainee in a smaller office, I was in a position where I got to work very closely with a partner. Which meant that I got to listen to how they spoke to clients, dictated work and delegated tasks to the support staff. Having the opportunity to observe this has allowed me to learn a lot just by listening to the way they communicate.

2. Prioritise your tasks.

When you are at University, you have deadlines that you know you need to work to, so it is easier to prioritise your work. As a trainee, you have to learn which tasks are more urgent than others and how to prioritise your workday. There are no essay deadlines or exam dates, and you need to look at the work you have been given, assess the urgency of it and deal with each task efficiently. You do not get extensions when working as a solicitor, so learning how to prioritise and deal with issues effectively is very important.

3. If you are worried about something, speak to your colleagues.

It can be a daunting experience starting your traineeship; there are lots of new experiences that many people won’t have dealt with before such as not knowing how to use the computer systems, having to meet a new office full of people, and learning how the office is run. I have been lucky that I get to work in both offices at The McKinstry Company, and they have been very welcoming and supportive. I also get the opportunity to shadow a partner directly, which isn’t very common for most traineeships. However, it is important to let people know if you struggle with something. It can be a particular piece of work you have been given or a situation with a file that you haven’t dealt with before. I have learned that someone else will have had a similar situation with one of their own files and that they can help you or point you in the right direction.

4. Keep a bank of styles from work you have done.

I have found that keeping a folder on your computer that has a bank of styles from work that you found difficult or slightly unusual has been very helpful. Keeping styles from previous files allows you to look at wording for particular clauses or letters that were effective and well written.

 5. Ask questions and get involved.

It can be daunting asking your supervisor or other solicitors questions when you are working on your files. But it is important to ask questions if you do not understand something or if you are interested in a particular subject. It shows that you are keen and that you want to learn more. Ask if you can help on certain files or to be more proactive within your firm. If the firm you work for has events planned or is supporting an event locally, try and show support by attending.

6. Pay more attention on the Diploma!

The Diploma is advertised as a practical course that will develop you into a competent day one trainee. During the Diploma you don’t realise what parts are important. Try and take good notes and listen to your tutor’s past experiences. One major thing that trainees lack is client exposure, and it is something that I wish I had more of when starting my traineeship. Keep all your notes because the styles and worked examples that are in there are useful and be as involved as you can in the transactional tasks you are set.

Ready to start your career at The McKinstry Company? Get in touch today.

The McKinstry Company offers more than just great legal services; we also provide excellent opportunities for you to kick-start your legal career. We always welcome speculative applications because we know the right people (and the right opportunity) can come along when you least expect it. If you are a motivated, self-starting individual and think you would be an excellent cultural fit, we would love to hear from you. Please email leigh@mckinstry.co.uk.

Join the McKinstry family
Some of our happy clients
  • The service was superb.  Kirsty and team were extremely helpful.

    Mr and Mrs R, Ayr
  • First class service from start till finish. Always there to give help and advice.

    Mr R, Ayr
  • Great service and advice from a good professional company.

    Mr R, Kilmarnock
  • Excellent, very friendly and professional. I will be using you for all my property transactions in the future!

    Mrs S, Godstone
  • My case was handled sensitively and smoothly.

    Mr N, Ayr
  • Everyone concerned in the sale of our property was very efficient and kept us up to date with all happenings.

    D Ferguy, Cookstown
  • Great service.  Would recommend you to others.

    Mr S, Kirkmichael
  • Communication was always available when required. Made me feel confident throughout the process.

    Mr L, Ayr
  • Always replied or phoned back when I needed my questions answered.

    Miss McF, Patna
  • A very prompt and friendly service, a pleasure to deal with.

    Mr R, Aberdeen
  • Robert was very supportive.

    M Carruthers, Kilmarnock.
  • Great, Rebecca was very pleasant to deal with and went out of her way to help with our case

    S Everett, Kilbarchan
  • The solicitor / paralegal I was dealing with was very professional and performed to a high standard. I was very impressed.

    B Ferguson, Methil
  • Local firm, word of mouth good reports.

    K Rooney, Glasgow
  • All queries were dealt with in a prompt and professional manner and I was kept informed of progress as events developed. Thank you very much for making a difficult situation much easier to deal with.

    Mrs McG, Ayr
  • Communication via telephone and email was regular, prompt and comprehensive. All queries and questions were answered with no delays or problems. My experience with the McKinstry Company was pleasant and smooth.

    Mr McK, Ayr
  • My family and I received excellent service from everyone with whom we had contact. The service was of the highest standard and, as I have in the past, I will continue to recommend the company to anyone seeking legal assistance.

    Mrs S, Ayr
  • All emails and calls were dealt with promptly. Very impressed. Very very pleased with service.

    Mr and Mrs H, Hull
  • I enjoy the friendly atmosphere. Very professional.

    Mrs A, Ayr
  • Mr Honeyman was very professional and knowledgeable which made us feel reassured. Very happy with the service and if I needed a solicitor again I would get in touch.

    Mr B, Ardrossan
  • Prompt quick efficient communication.

    Mrs K, Cumnock
  • Ease of making appointments and timescale for completion of business all good.

    Mr & Mrs T, Maybole
  • Gave reassurance and comfort at a stressful time. I felt ten times better after our first meeting and support provided ultimately exceeded my desired outcome.

    Mr N, Saltcoats
  • The supportive way that the advice was provided along with the willingness to fit appointments in with our requirements

    Mr R, Ayr
  • The whole process was handled with upmost professionalism throughout.

    Mr McN, Kilwinning