The early days as a trainee at Greenwoods GRM
In September last year, I joined Greenwoods GRM as one of three new trainee solicitors based in our head office in Peterborough.
I remember the first day feeling very daunting: waiting in the foyer to be collected by a member of my new team, being shown to my desk and being introduced to a slightly overwhelming number of colleagues across the firm. Everything was so new, but equally very exciting – everyone was very friendly and now was finally the time to put all my hard work at law school and beyond into practice!
My first few weeks involved a whirlwind of training, new faces, firm values and procedures. I spent a lot of time on our intranet trying desperately to learn everyone’s names and get to grips with the time-recording policy! Fortunately, I had already met a number of the then trainees (now newly qualified) at Greenwoods’ 2016 summer party, as well as getting to know my fellow cohort of trainees at a Peterborough Young Lawyers Group (PYLG) networking event the following summer. The whole induction process was very comprehensive with a balanced focus on the case management system and time recording policy among other things, but also understanding what Greenwoods was all about and the key values behind it.
I started in the Disputes team where I was soon exposed to a wide range of contentious work. Having had some previous experience in residential conveyancing at a high street firm, I was used to being involved in a large number of matters all at the same time. Disputes was a bit different in that I was involved in fewer matters but the work load involved in each was significant and the length of any given matter was much longer.
Tasks in the Disputes team involved preparing hearing/trial bundles and managing ongoing matter bundles, preparing costs budgets and subsequent budget discussion reports, initial research into potential claims and preparing Scott Schedules. Whilst the procedure in dealing with litigious matters is strictly governed by the Civil Procedure Rules meaning most files I worked on more or less followed the same structure, each was unique in the terms of the key issues in dispute. It was really exciting to be involved in such a variety of legal issues ranging from misrepresentation at auctions to share holder disputes.
I have now moved into my second seat in the Commercial Property team where I have already been involved in numerous commercial leasehold transactions as well as some residential matters too. Tasks in this team so far have included a variety of drafting experience from commercial reports on title, leases and contracts to Land Registry documents (transfers, applications to remove restrictions on title and first registration applications) and SDLT returns.
Beyond the legal side of things, integrating into Greenwoods GRM was made easier by getting involved with as much as possible from day one. Joining the Social and Charity Committees allowed me to get stuck in with helping to organise the firm’s Christmas party and even arranging a gin tasting event just last month. Attending a variety of PYLG and Peterborough Young Professionals (PYP) networking events with colleagues has also helped me to meet other young professionals like me and given me the opportunity to improve my networking skills, but in a fun and informal environment. The newly formed firm netball team and some corporate volunteering at Nene Park also helped me get to know my colleagues better and feel part of the Greenwoods GRM team.
Seven months into my training contract and I feel I have learnt a few key lessons about how to get the most out of your training contract:
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – no question is too silly and you are not expected to know everything. Quite the opposite, you are expected to ask questions particularly as everyone in your team has plenty of experience and know-how which will often save you a lot of time.
- Be enthusiastic about every task – ultimately you are trying to impress in every seat regardless of whether you feel that area of law is for you or not. Following up on tasks you have been asked to do and asking about how a matter is progressing shows you are interested and may encourage fee earners to involve you further.
- Get involved with as much as possible – this will help you settle into your new firm and make it easier to approach colleagues to ask for help as well as making yourself recognisable.
- Have a ‘to do list’ notebook – this way you can manage your workload so you can meet those all important deadlines and you will have a record of what tasks you have completed if you need to refer back to these, as well as for keeping your training contract record up to date!
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