April 18, 2017

What to expect when qualifying as a solicitor

You might hear from people that making the transition from trainee to qualified solicitor is daunting, whereas others say that being a newly qualified solicitor doesn't feel any different to being a trainee. Having recently qualified into the Employment team in London, this is a bit about my own experience.

I joined the Dispute Resolution team at RWK Goodman, in November 2012 as a paralegal where I gained experience with a particular focus on personal injury, clinical negligence and permanent health insurance claims. In 2015, I began my training contract at the firm and qualified as a solicitor in 2017.  During my training contract, I enjoyed being able to complete a real variety of seats, including in private client, family, corporate and civil dispute resolution and employment law.

I am really pleased to have qualified into the Employment team following my final seat. It is an exciting and ever changing area of law and involves a great mix of contentious and non-contentious work.  The transition has been seamless, although it did feel surreal to go home on Tuesday evening as a trainee and arrive at work on Wednesday morning as a qualified solicitor! It was a very momentous day and I felt instantly accountable when I first signed an Adviser's Certificate after advising my client on a settlement agreement. I also felt a real adrenaline surge when I took my first without prejudice telephone conference for my client who had been bullied at work. The meetings and telephone conferences you attend during your training contract help you build on your own advisory and negotiating skills and it's when you're on your own feet as a solicitor that you realise just how beneficial your training has been.

I am gradually building my own caseload and I have more independence. As trainees, we receive a certain amount of responsibility but we also receive excellent support from partners and other solicitors in the team. The supervision does not end on qualification and if I'm carrying out a task for the first time or feel that my work needs to be approved, the partners are incredibly approachable and are always willing to give guidance. I recently completed my first employment contract review for one of our client companies and I was able to obtain guidance from my supervising partner on a couple of unusual points before advising the client.

Throughout my training contract I have had the opportunity to develop my non-technical skills such as client care, business development and networking skills, in addition to my technical knowledge. I would recommend that you also make the most of all the opportunities that come your way during your time as a trainee - everything helps to create a full experience and prepare you for qualification.

The best thing about being an NQ is the great sense of accomplishment...bring on the admissions ceremony!

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