Unlike many of my peers, I was offered my traineeship with Pinsent Masons after taking part in a Training Contract Assessment Centre rather than completing a summer placement with the firm. This meant that I had little idea of what to expect from my Training Contract or the firm in general apart from the little I learned of it from the time spent in the meeting rooms and reception of the Quay 2 Office in Edinburgh. Whilst the reception was very nice, as office receptions go, this first impression could never have prepared me for life as a trainee of the firm.
Thankfully it transpires that the impressive branding and friendly and open culture that is embodied by the Quay 2 Reception really is echoed and fostered throughout the firm and right into individual departments and teams. Over the past 3 months, I have made some great friends and had a lot of fun. The latter is something I didn’t expect to be saying only a few months into a traineeship at a top international law firm, especially given the added task of navigating starting a new job and leaving behind my carefree student existence. However, this is something that Pinsent Masons achieves from day one through the two week training period that all new trainees at the firm (England/Scotland/Northern Ireland) are required to attend.
The two-week induction (which I’m sure will be extensively canvassed in another blog) is something that not all firms offer to their trainees, but it is something that all firms should offer. It introduced us to the firm through talks from Senior Lawyers, training sessions on finance and networking, and social events, amongst many other things. A real highlight of the two weeks is the residential stay in the Westerwood Hotel, from which it is impossible to come away at the same weight at which you went in and having not ‘bonded’ significantly with the other trainees.
Fast forward a few months and I can say I’m nicely settled into my seat in Litigation and Regulatory. (Literally, as well, I’ve had my chair adjusted by Facilities to make it extra comfy). Entering a new work environment can be daunting, and settling in, even at Pinsent Masons wasn’t without a few bumps here and there. For example, not knowing which mugs you can safely use and which will get you blacklisted by its rightful owner (kidding), or how many cups of tea/coffee you can feasibly make in a day without your new colleagues wondering whether you have an addiction. For all the other usual settling in issues, there are people in every department happy to answer even the most basic and embarrassing questions that you have. Exhibit A: what happens when you arrive at your desk on day one and your computer doesn’t have a hard drive? It turns out you are supposed to plug your laptop into a docking station – sorcery if you ask me. (Thank you, Susan – my day one hero.) The moral of the story is that someone will almost always have already asked that question and that the PAs are very savvy and can answer any/all stupid questions.
Looking back on how I thought the start of my traineeship would be, I am both relieved and pleasantly surprised. PM introduced us to the firm and to working life gradually, and in a way that meant we weren’t being dropped in at the deep end. In fact, the only deep end that I’ve experienced so far is that of the pool at the Westerwood Hotel, and that is down to the supportive and relaxed culture within the firm and the impeccably planned induction fortnight.
Whilst I’m still trying to come to terms with losing the perks of being a student, I have a feeling that working full time at a firm like Pinsent Masons will more than make up for it.
Vacation schemes these days are likened to ‘gold dust’ for many reasons – they’re difficult to secure but experiencing them is very valuable. Add to that the highly competitive graduate recruitment market, the somewhat daunting application and assessment process and the fact that the majority of law firms recruit at the same time, meaning the preparation and submission of several application forms in a short period of time and it’s a tricky time for any future lawyer.
‘Champion change, promote progress and enable everyone to make business work better for people’.
Going into the Pinsent Masons vacation scheme, I was understandably apprehensive about the upcoming 3 weeks.