Each of the guests (an eccentric film director; a fragile princess; the world's top female golfer; a Scottish colonel awarded the Victoria Cross; a renowned female fighter pilot; a film star about to get her big break; and the Prince himself) had known the victim and had reason to resort to murder. In order to solve the crime and bring the culprit to justice the guests had to use their excellent skills in communication, reasoning, questioning and attention to detail.
Thankfully the guests were in fact the Morton Fraser first year trainees donned in 1950s character outfits, and the skills required to catch the criminal are also some of the skills developed as a trainee solicitor, thus making us the perfect participants for a murder mystery evening! (In case you were wondering, we were at our yearly self organised "trainee away weekend" for a bit of R&R.)
I can't put enough emphasis on the need for strong communication skills. You'll find yourself emailing, calling, writing to and meeting clients, colleagues and other solicitors every day so you have to be confident, concise and clear in all communications.
That said, there is a balance to be struck between being confident and engaging and coming across as over-confident and arrogant. There is a time for channelling your inner Sherlock to observe and concentrate but you need to make sure you balance this with some John Watson-esque charm and conversation!
A lot of your time as a trainee is spent considering what options are open to your clients or how to solve their query/problem. Very rarely are you presented with an exam style question where each aspect of the problem can be easily solved by reference to one legal principle or where the scenario conveniently matches the facts of a case that has set a precedent.
Much like piecing together clues and evidence, as a trainee you will have to logically assess the information you have, determine what further information you need, consider how it fits together and look at it all against the bigger picture of the relevant law and how that will apply.
You'll all be familiar with the 'good cop, bad cop' routine frequently played out by TV detectives when interviewing suspects. While we definitely don't adopt this approach in meetings, good interview technique is definitely a skill to be learned and one that you probably won't have much experience of before starting your traineeship.
However, an advantage of having four different seats during your traineeship is that you get to sit in on a variety of meetings and observe the interview technique of a number of your colleagues. Everyone will have a different style and you'll be able to pick up on what you like and what you don't to help develop your own style.
Attention to detail
A detective who doesn't pick up on a clue or some evidence probably doesn't stand the best chance of solving the crime and hasn't done their job properly so attention to detail is key (there's a reason Inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther fame is always carrying a magnifying glass).
The same can be said for solicitors, whether that be proof reading a document, ensuring that a contract does everything your client expects it to do, revising documents or avoiding typos, a keen eye for detail is imperative as some mistakes can affect the validity of documents or the construction given to them.
Also, like an old school detective you'll probably find yourself holding a magnifying glass from time to time, particularly if you're piecing together information from old, handwritten deeds.
The above are only a handful of the skills that you will develop through your traineeship and clear training objectives and targets are set to ensure that everyone is progressing and the necessary skills are being developed. Hopefully this blog has highlighted some of the skills that you should try to evidence on traineeship application forms and in interviews and has made clear that the skills developed in law can be applied to more than just your traineeship, although maybe their application to solving a murder is slightly tenuous!
Now, in true TV crime drama style, if you're left wondering who the murderer was you'll need to tune in to next week's trainee blog post where all will be revealed …