There are no right or wrong seat choices, and if you don't get the seat you requested, you might find yourself loving an area of law you would not have previously considered - or at least confirming that it's not for you.
I have experienced the positives which come with a varied experience, but also the challenges of starting from scratch in a new team and area of law.
Here are my top tips for getting the most out of your traineeship:
1. Keep an open mind
If you enter each seat with an open mind, ready to absorb all the opportunities and learn from each new experience you will end your traineeship with the confidence that you have gained invaluable skills.
It is common to discover after two months that you are thriving in an area of law you didn't expect to enjoy. If you click with your colleagues and are enthusiastic about learning you are guaranteed a successful seat.
2. Learn how the team works
Every team has a different method of working. In your banking seat you may find yourself with more opportunities to develop drafting and negotiation skills. In private client you could find yourself on house visits and running signing meetings independently.
Your colleagues also have preferred methods. Do the partners like to proofread electronic or paper documents? Does your manager have an afternoon where they work from home? We recommend speaking to your team at the beginning of your seat to find out their preferences.
3. Gain as much experience as possible
Make it clear from the beginning that you are keen to work with as many fee-earners as possible. Not only does this give you the chance to meet more members of the firm, but it opens you up to a wider variety of work. Each fee-earner will have their specialism, and there is no better way to learn than to watch them in action.
Don't be afraid to ask a member of your team if you can shadow them or help out with a piece of work. That is what your traineeship is all about!
4. Ask your manager for frequent feedback
The structure of your traineeship means that you will have two set reviews per seat with your manager. We recommend from the outset that you ask your manager if you can have more frequent catch-ups.
This is not only useful for your manager to keep an eye on your workload and make sure that you are getting as much experience as possible, but also so that they can give you any praise or constructive criticism when it is due, and not three months after the event. Managers also welcome any feedback on anything they could do further to help you.
5. Remember there are no stupid questions
After six months in a successful seat it can be difficult when, just as you feel you are getting the hang of working independently, you are suddenly back to square one. No team will expect a new trainee to pick things up immediately, and so make sure you are never afraid to ask people for help.
I believe that if you follow these tips, then by the end of your traineeship you will recognise all of the transferrable skills you have picked up, and will have made a lot of brilliant connections along the way who will be willing to help you on the next stage of your career.