Reasons to choose Wilson Browne
Trainee Blog– March 2020 – Adam Willson
I am currently approaching the end of my third seat of the training contract at Wilson Browne and with the finish line in sight; it’s a good opportunity to sit and reflect on my experiences of the training contract so far, and to consider how I got to where I am today.
I graduated from Bournemouth University with an upper-second class degree in 2016 and, with no training contract lined up, took the gamble on doing the LPC at De Montfort University (DMU), taking into account their excellent employability record.
Through DMU I was able to acquire my first official legal role working as a legal assistant in a small high-street firm in Leicester. Before that, I had only worked for a year at Citizens Advice (as a triage assessor, among other tasks), along with several sales/stockroom assistant and bartender jobs throughout college and university.
After having so many direct training contract applications batted back with no luck during the LPC, I decided to refocus my attention and to look for a vacancy where I could work my way up to the training contract. In October 2017 I joined Wilson Browne as a paralegal in the Commercial Property team, on the understanding that there was no guarantee of a training contract but Wilson Browne had a strong track-record of developing and promoting staff who work hard. Fast forward 2 ½ years and I have added my name to that ever-growing list and am less than 9 months away from qualifying as a Solicitor.
Summary of the Training Contract
I continued in the Commercial Property team for my first seat, after spending around a year there as a paralegal. I then moved on to the Family team for 6 months and then Clinical Negligence, which is where I am currently.
Compared to working as a paralegal, being a trainee has been a strange but positive experience. You are treated as a fee earner – and thus have the responsibilities that come with that – but each team is realistic as to your skills, given that you will usually only ever have less than 6 months experience in a certain area.
Trainee or not, all of the staff at Wilson Browne at every level have always been approachable, friendly and helpful; but I have found that as a trainee, solicitors and partners are even more so because they have all been in the same position and remember what it is like to be a trainee. Ultimately, you are given the freedom to demonstrate your abilities in certain tasks, but you always have support and guidance there from senior practitioners if you struggle or get something wrong.
The most important thing I have realised is that the other trainees are a fantastic support network; whilst other members of staff can remember what it was like to be a trainee, the other trainees are living it with you and the shared experience really helps to be able to sympathise with each other. You will find that as trainees, you share tips and advice which prove invaluable, for example a trainee in a team you are about to move to may sit down with you and discuss their experience of that seat and give you tips on anything you need to be aware of.
My personal highlights of the training contract so far have been the opportunities to go to court for a variety of different types of cases, being able to meet and get to know people from the different offices of Wilson Browne that I would normally not have had the chance to speak to, and in general the personal development I have seen in myself as there are a lot of aspects to the training contract that put you outside of your comfort zone.
On the flip side, I would say that the major challenges any trainee faces are dealing with seat changes, as you will only just start to feel like you can be an asset to the team at around the 4 month mark and then shortly after you are leaving to start afresh in a different team. In tangent with this is the fact that you have a reduced responsibility as a trainee compared to other fee earners (because of the lack of experience) and so if you have previous experience of running your own caseload, the transition to instead assisting fee earners with their caseload can be difficult. Finally, the training record is hard to do as self-reflection is a tricky skill to master, but it proves to be a very useful resource when looking back during your appraisals, and is a vital part of the training contract process (so remember to do it after each week!).
Advice for any future trainees?
My main piece of advice would be that there is no right answer on how to qualify as a solicitor, and each route to qualification is personal. Prospective trainees are under a lot of pressure to qualify as soon as possible, and many feel obliged to take the first opportunity that arises. However, it can be useful to weigh up the pros and cons and to consider multiple factors such as the standard of training/experience you will get, whether the firm is the right fit for you, and how likely you would be to find another, potentially better, opportunity.
Ultimately, everyone in life is working to different timescales; whether it be qualification as a solicitor, buying a house, getting married or finishing off your bucket list – it does not matter when you get there as long as you are happy and achieve what you want to achieve.