A lot of our readers naturally focus on the pursuit of a training contract, but it is worth considering what awaits trainees once they begin life at a law firm. Aside from the actual case work, what else do budding lawyers need to consider?
What efforts does your firm put in place to successfully integrate trainees?
Like most firms, the offer of a training contract comes 1 - 2 years before our trainees actually join us.
We try really hard to make them feel part of the Bond Dickinson team from the point of offer but there is a fine balance between integrating and stalking, although we hope we're walking on the right side of that one! We have a LinkedIn group for our future trainees that allows us to share information and helps them to start forming networks with their future colleagues.
We also have a number of opportunities for them to social with their future colleagues including the firmwide Christmas parties, informal drinks and welcome lunches pre induction. We run a formal and structured induction programme which sees them all spending their first week together in one location, getting to know each other, and us, learning more about the firm, the vision and culture and the role that they have to play in all of that. From day one, they are allocated a mentor, usually a lawyer who has recently qualified with us, who's role it is to support them through their first few months and beyond.
At Norton Rose Fulbright, we promote the early integration of our trainees so they feel welcome and supported as they embark on their careers with us. This begins with a pre‐LPC day that allows future trainees to meet their intake and familiarise themselves with the Firm. Future trainees are allocated a Trainee Buddy, with whom they maintain regular contact throughout their studies.
A Keep In Touch day mid‐way through the LPC allows us to ‘check in’ with future trainees and discuss their progress. We host a Seat Fair during which representatives for each practice area meet with future trainees to answer their questions, enabling them to make informed decisions when they submit their first seat preferences.
Trainees complete a 2.5 week induction at the start of their Training Contract. Trainees are encouraged to join one or more of our sporting societies, diversity and inclusion groups and the Charities Committee, which provide opportunities to develop firm wide contacts. Trainees are allocated a Partner Mentor who oversees their development and provides support throughout their Training Contract.
A Trainee Forum, an active Social Committee and regular Learning and Development sessions ensure that integration is promoted throughout the Training Contract and beyond.
Norton Rose Fulbright
How are trainees assessed during their training contract?
Once you join Norton Rose Fulbright as a trainee you will be assessed throughout your training contract both informally on the day to day tasks you complete and also on a more formal basis through our 360-degree appraisal process. In each of their four seats, trainees receive a mid-seat review and an end of seat appraisal.
The mid seat review takes place with the trainee’s supervisor and is a great opportunity to discuss any areas for development as well as areas of strength. Trainees then have the rest of their seat to focus on the areas they would like to develop and enhance. The end of seat appraisal is a slightly more thorough 360 degree process where trainees are asked to complete a self-review and feedback is sought from members of the trainee’s team.
All of the feedback is discussed at a meeting between the trainee and their supervisor and is another opportunity for the trainee to discuss areas where they would like more experience as well as constructive feedback to assist in their development.Trainee appraisals are an important development tool and support our trainees in the progression of their career well beyond qualification.
Do trainees have to undertake any formal studies during their training contract?
Trainees are required to undertake the Professional Skills Course (PSC) during their period of recognised training. The PSC develops the professional skills of a trainee before they qualify as a solicitor. The PSC consists of three compulsory modules as well as elective elements. While each module has its own method of assessment, a course provider is with the trainees throughout their assessment, providing expert teaching, support and guidance.
The modules are completed at different times to maximise their impact and resourcefulness to the trainees. For example, certain courses are more relevant and tangible once trainees have completed at least one seat, so they can get more to grips with what is being covered. Each module is relatively short, with the longest being three days in total, and trainee supervisor understand their importance.
Aside from the PSC, trainees will attend on-going departmental training throughout their four seats. This training is usually delivered at the trainee level or to the whole department/legal group. No formal studies or assessments follow this training, however it provides vital knowledge about the department, their clients and the law.
Please explain how the qualification process works…
The qualification process can be a challenging time for our trainees, so we are very open about the process so you feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel! From start to finish, our qualification process usually lasts no longer than three months. We encourage discussions with trainees, to support them with identifying which roles they would like to be considered for from our vacancy list. Trainees are also permitted to apply for more than one role if requested.
Once decisions have been made, the interviews are organised asap ensuring there is enough time for adequate preparation. Following interviews, the department partners will make decisions and the Graduate Partners will inform trainees of the outcome. We always try to retain as many NQs as possible (87% this year); having trained them we expect them to be first-rate associates with good prospects for continued career growth at Taylor Wessing. However, those trainees, who are unfortunately not successful, will be given a significant amount of support from the firm. Including, but not limited to; recruitment and agency information, CV and Interview workshops. Plus we have a great alumni network as you never know when paths may cross again!