Morton Fraser provides a varied traineeship with, so far as possible, experience in corporate, litigation, private client and property. For various reasons, not all trainees will do a seat in each of the four areas – they may do double seats or go on secondment for example.
The four seats I will have done by the end of my traineeship are:
3. Secondment to the Office of the Advocate General (HMRC division)
4. Commercial Property
Suffice to say that I have learned a lot about the certain areas of the law and the practices in which I have worked. However, whilst developing our experiences and skills in the legal sense is of course invaluable and essential, trainees also develop many other skills. Previous blogs have looked at many of the transferrable skills you will gain throughout your traineeship, so for the avoidance of repetition, here are a few you may not always expect to learn.
Firstly, I have learned the need to be organised enough to move seat, office and even business, in one swift move. Each of my four seats have involved a move to a different office and so I have had to move all of my belongings with me. Going through the moving process now, I realise that I have the tendencies of a magpie, I somehow acquire copious amounts of things that stay in or around my desk - from shoes and clothes to soup bowls, cutlery, cold and flu medicine, a little koala and other odds and ends.
You will note that I have only learned the need of this - the polished skill is still a work in progress - perhaps the lesson is that I need less shoes…
Secondly, I have learned how to adapt to new working environments and practices and how to interact with new colleagues. The important issues like what time does everyone take their lunch, where serves the best lunch, whether or not a bacon roll run is a must on a Friday and the, as noted in my previous blog, absolutely vital issue of the supply of tasty treats! Of course, more seriously, each department and business will have its own idiosyncrasies that need simply be learned.
Thirdly, and something which is perhaps more transferable, it is vital to identify who is the best person to go to for each type of issue. We aren’t superhuman so don’t expect to know how to do everything, or even have the time to do so. What you should know is who to approach, be it a secretary, member of another team, library staff or someone else – it is important to remember that the resources available extend beyond just the physical hardware and books and much of our resources are to be found in the knowledge that we each know and share. In my time with Morton Fraser one of the strangest things I helped with was retrieving someone’s porridge from a microwave when the door jammed. You just never know where your services may be required.
Fourth, keep your e-mail inbox reasonably clear. I cannot stress this enough – it is annoying to get the warning sign that it is getting full and then have to trawl through and delete, plus if you keep everything organised it will be easier to sort out at the end of your seat.
Fifth, and clearly the most important one – what is the best baking or sweets to bring to work? I have learned that (so far) quite simply any baking, so long as it is sufficiently tasty and unhealthy in nature, is gladly received. In stark contrast I have brought in brownies, cakes and tray bakes which were gone within the day (or less) but when I offered some flour and butter free cookies. Let’s just say the uptake was much less enthusiastic!
Finally, on a more serious note, you must remember that everyone, from the trainee before you to the partner sitting across from you, has at one time or another been in your position. There is no shame in asking questions (unless you have already asked it). It is well known that, after each six months, when the trainee is getting into the swing of things, they are going to move seat and start the learning process again in a new team. This is part of the beauty of a traineeship and the change should be embraced, after all the experiences you have now are likely to influence your future career.