Talking Trainees

The challenges of being a first seat trainee and how to cope with them

Posted on 18 April 2018

As a first seat trainee you may come across a variety of challenges. This blog details some of the challenges you may face and how you can deal with them.

IT systems

The IT systems and software can be very complicated to get your head around at first. We use different systems for document filing, emails and billing. My best advice is to pay attention in induction training and not to overlook the basics, as when you get to your desk the first time, even the basics can seem complicated to start with. There are opportunities for further training on particular elements of the IT systems and there are always people to ask for advice and help.

Time recording

Time recording may be a foreign concept to a lot of people going into a training contract, it certainly was for me. It is a big part of working in a law firm and something that is very important to get right. The best thing to do is take the time early on in your seat to get to grips with this so that you have time to practice. Make use of the timers if you can, as they can be very useful for when you are dealing with multiple matters throughout the day.

Learn from others

It may be that this is your first proper job and first time in an office environment. I found it useful to look at how others draft and phrase emails and documents so that you can pick up on techniques and phrases that people use, which can come in useful for the future.

While you are in your first seat (and any seat for that matter) take the time to sit down with the fee earner who has supervised your work so that you understand why the changes were made and so you can learn from your mistakes early on which will enable you to progress quicker.

Keep your supervisor up to date

Communication with your supervisor is important for two reasons. Firstly this is to keep them up to date with your workload. In the first seat, managing your workload can be particularly difficult as some tasks may take you longer than expected and because you want to impress, you may say yes to everything, resulting in you having too much on. Talking with your supervisor about what work you have on will keep them aware of how busy you are and they can assist you with managing your workload.

Secondly, it ensures you have varied work which supports your learning progress. Discussing your work with your supervisor early on in your first seat helps them to iron out any understanding/style issues you have before they become a problem and it gives you time in the rest of your training contract to work on them. It also allows your supervisor to make sure that you are getting varied work indicative of the department to give you the best trainee experience.


Tamasine Broad

Written by Tamasine Broad

Tamasine graduated from the University of Birmingham with a first class law degree. She completed her LPC at the University of Law before commencing a training contract with Gateley Plc in 2017.

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