I studied law at the University of Edinburgh, with one year spent studying in Sweden as part of the Erasmus programme. Like most law students, I had heard so many stories about traineeships and what they entailed. Needless to say, not all were complimentary!
In spite of this I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a trainee thus far, and I believe that is due in no small part to the firm in which I find myself working. I started at McGrigors in September 2011, and I am now in my second seat. At no point have I been left struggling with a task with nobody to ask for advice, and the training I have received throughout has been invaluable. You are given great responsibility and are expected to use your initiative from day one. Fellow members of your team will regularly listen to your views and will provide you with feedback to help you progress and improve.
This concept of togetherness and teamwork is evidenced from day one of setting foot in the office. Partners, qualified professionals of all levels, trainees and support staff all tend to mingle over a coffee whilst browsing the morning's papers. As the new batch of trainees, everybody is keen to get to know you: what seat you are in, where you live, what University you went to, what did you think of the X Factor at the weekend…etc. You feel welcomed immediately, and all those weeks of worrying about what tie to wear or how do you talk to a partner are all forgotten about before you even get to lunchtime.
Trainees are actively encouraged to become involved with all aspects of the firm. Granted, in terms of the annual 5-a-side football tournament, it is very much a case of the partners desperately seeking young, sprightly trainees "to do the running and chasing", but there are also open invitations to events such as the firm's Ryder Cup golf competition, charity race nights and after work drinks on a Friday. A personal highlight for me was speaking at the annual Burns Night celebrations in January of this year. A personal low point being the sore head suffered the next day!
So far I have completed a seat in Contentious Construction, and I am currently working with the Litigation & Compliance team. Both seats have been incredibly different. Construction law is a very technical subject, and so client exposure is minimal at first. The partners in the team are real experts in their field, who go out of their way to involve you with their work. As a first year trainee, there is great satisfaction in hearing such a legal expert recite, verbatim, research you have worked on for hours to renowned clients on a matter worth vast sums of money. I even made my debut as a litigator by making my first appearance in court representing a client. It was only a small claims matter, but everyone has to start somewhere!
My current seat in the Litigation & Compliance team has seen me tasked with drafting advice notes to be sent to clients and has offered more direct client contact. For anybody who has studied Law and enjoyed the cases where a misplaced comma can make the world of difference to the interpretation of a statute, or where a plural of a word as opposed to its singular form can make millions of pounds worth of a difference, this may just be for you! Due to the varied nature of the work our clients seek advice in, each day is different in terms of the kind of subjects and law you will be researching and learning about.
Looking ahead to the future, it is reassuring to know that I am working for a firm which values its trainees. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here to date, and I look forward to progressing with the firm. Following the recent merger I am confident that the opportunities open to me are greater than ever.