The importance of a well-rounded training contract
Each seat that you undertake as a trainee refines different skills and exposes you to diverse practice areas and tasks. The variety of experience gained whilst a trainee will set you up for success on qualification.
At Michelmores, our full-service practice areas are split between three wider sectors/departments, Business, Real Estate and Private Client. In the recent seat rotation, I considered not only the areas of law I was interested in exploring further for potential qualification, but also the larger department of the firm that the choices I put forward sat within. I have a background in property and have experienced three valuable seats in our private client department (Family, Agriculture and Tax, Trusts and Succession (TTS)), so a seat in our business department was a top priority to ensure I had the opportunity to experience this sector. Only a month into my business seat in Banking, Restructuring and Insolvency (BRI), I am really enjoying learning about a different side of the firm, the corporate client base and broadening my knowledge.
Choosing seats across different areas of the firm (and offices) also enables you to widen your internal network. This is key wherever you end up qualifying as collaboration internally is important to be able to work with other teams to provide the best suite of advice to clients. For example, a client who is going through a divorce may need advice from the TTS team regarding their estate planning, and a recent insolvency case I have been working on has links to agriculture. A training contract is a unique opportunity to build these connections each time you move seat, it's great to have people who you can easily pick up the phone to from another team.
My experience so far
In my time with the Family team, I worked on numerous financial settlement cases on divorce and also private children matters. In Agriculture, I built on my contentious experience with the litigious arm of the team whilst also having opportunities to help with advising landed estates and landowners on non-contentious matters. My TTS seat was a brilliant opportunity to explore a purely transactional department and I was exposed to the international estate planning work we undertake at Michelmores. My BRI seat is proving to be equally as exciting and diverse; I have recently worked on a pre-pack administration, in addition to dealing with an insolvent deceased estate, contentious liquidation cases and a large bank refinance for a group of companies.
It is always good to keep an open mind during your training contract. A range of experiences, seats and sectors throughout your training will give you the best chance of exploring the whole firm. The varied opportunities available may throw in a curveball you hadn’t considered for qualification, and even if it doesn't, all your training experiences will feed into making you a better, well-rounded lawyer.
That being said, there is always ample opportunity to shape your training contract – whether that be to compliment your intended qualification area as you progress through your training, or around a particular interest, for example sustainability (see Tatiana's blog here) or private wealth (see Ellen's blog here).