A law firm for life

It is important to show that you can manage your workload effectively as a Trainee even when it becomes overwhelming and stressful. Below, I have listed some of the tips I have learned so far during my traineeship at The McKinstry Company, which may be of some use to you during yours.

1. Take notes

It won’t be long before your workload doubles, triples and then quadruples, so it is important to start taking notes on everything you do from the outset. You may think “I’ll remember that” but as soon as you start working on another file or someone asks you a question on an entirely separate topic, that piece of information will be a distant memory and gone forever. By taking notes, they provide guidance and are extremely helpful when you need to refer back to them. I have started getting into the habit of ensuring I keep a detailed note of what needs to be done on this file and sit this list on the top of the file papers. This means that this note is the first thing I see when I open the file, which quickly reminds me of what’s required without having to sift through all of the papers again and wasting time.

An important point to make about taking notes is that asides from it benefiting yourself by providing guidance and reassurance, it is also beneficial to your colleagues who may have to work on your file when you are out of the office.

2. Organisation

It is crucial to have an organised desk and diary. When the files start to multiple and you start to feel stressed, you still need to be able to take on unscheduled tasks that arise unexpectedly, which are common within traineeships, and to be able to deal with that matter effectively and efficiently. Being organised allows you to tackle the issue with a calm and positive mindset, which in turn will enable you to focus on the task at hand. Again, this is a skill that is beneficial to your colleagues, as it allows for your work to be easily accessible if you were to collaborate on a file together.

If I ever start to feel stressed and lost within my workload, what I find most effective is to take 10 minutes to evaluate the situation and recognise what requires to be done next. I then make a note on my personal spreadsheet of files of what is required to be done for each file and prioritise what file should be dealt with first.

3. Learn from your mistakes

In a traineeship, you might be thrown into a situation or handed a piece of work to complete that you have never dealt with before. In situations like this, although you will give it your best shot, mistakes are inevitably going to be made. It’s important that if you do make mistakes, you take note of where you have gone wrong and write down any advice on what you could have done to improve this.

If, for example, you made a mistake in a letter to a client, I find it is helpful to keep a style of the letter and note on it what had been changed and why. This means in future when you have to send a similar letter to a client, you can refer back to your style to ensure you do not make the same mistake twice. I have found it extremely helpful doing this and keeping all of my styles within a folder along with my notebook full of useful tips that I have learned so far.

4. Ask your colleagues for help

Something I found the hardest to do when starting my traineeship was to ask for help when I needed it. I dreaded asking for help because I know everyone else has their own work to be getting on with and I did not want to annoy anyone. However, sitting in silence and not getting your work done is the worst thing to do. You will find that your colleagues actually want to help you and ensure you understand what you are doing. I have found this to be particularly true here at The McKinstry Company. As I sit in an open-plan office, if I am quiet for a while, my colleagues will check to make sure that I understand what I am doing. They are always offering a helping hand and their support.

When looking at this point from a different angle, I always think of my clients when I am unsure and need to ask one of my colleagues for advice. If I do not ask for help to progress matters, then the work does not get done, which can lead to unsatisfied clients. Recognising you need help and asking for assistance not only benefits you, but it also benefits the whole firm.

During your traineeship, you will experience a rollercoaster of emotions. However, it is important to remain positive and seek help when you need it. It is a learning curve in your career and it is important to take on board any advice offered to you. These are four pieces of advice I have learned since becoming a Trainee which will hopefully be of some use to you.

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.

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