Trainee Blog – The first year

Wednesday 10th March 2021

When you get your training contract and know there’s still two years until you start, you think it will be a never-ending wait. But before you know it, you have not only started but are into your second year with qualification on the horizon. Well this has been my experience – time has flown by!

My first six months were spent with the Commercial Litigation team. Immediately I was involved in a wide range of cases, attending client meetings and going to various court hearings from the get go. I was given the opportunity to run cases, under supervision, from the outset, which was great as it helped me understand the case process as a whole, and let me build rapport with clients. I quickly learnt that litigation was unpredictable, and you would often have to drop what you were doing to assist with something urgent, which was a challenge but made the area exciting to work in.

My next seat began in March 2020, with the Commercial Property team, when we all realised COVID was not going away quickly. Despite this disruption to my seat, it was handled the best way possible. The team quickly adapted to working remotely, and I was always kept busy, acting for some well-known retailers. When they want to acquire a new site the lease would be sent to us from the landlord’s solicitor and it is our job to amend this in line with our client’s instructions. This can be a big job and did take me a while to get my head around, but the team give great feedback and I was definitely more confident doing this by the end of the seat. I was also given the opportunity to help with many landlord matters from inception to completion. This involved drafting leases and negotiating terms with the tenant’s solicitor to reach agreement. It was a brilliant seat to widen my client exposure and deal with other solicitors independently.

As a trainee, if needed, we are asked to help out with ‘interventions’, where we act for the SRA in the regulatory closure of law firms. I have had the opportunity to attend several interventions with the supervising partner. These days can be extremely insightful and exceptionally busy, as you are faced with dealing with queries from worried employees and clients of the firms in question, whilst ensuring that all client information is collected.  There are only a handful of firms in the country who handle this kind of work, and so this is not experience trainees often come across.

Obviously, due to COVID, social activities have been put on hold (hopefully not for too much longer). However Gordons usually, and will again, has loads for their trainees to get involved in. I was in the firm’s netball team which is a friendly way to get to know your new colleagues, albeit in a competitive environment – we didn’t like to lose! Gordons is also committed to charity fundraising work, supporting a new charity picked by staff each year. We usually have events like “Gordons’ Got Talent”, the Yorkshire 3 Peaks, and quizzes which are always fun.

Whilst the first year is a whirlwind of meeting new people and getting to grips with unfamiliar areas of law, the skills and experience you gain set you up for the challenges of the second year.