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Old 03-10-2015, 08:55 PM   #1
nady_reply
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Join Date: Jan 2015
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Default Brief intro into life of a trainee solicitor

TRAINEE IN THE SPOTLIGHT | YVONNE MAK (LLB, King's College London)

Entering the legal workforce is like finding oneself on a perilous deserted island. Law school chucked me a knife and spear. Now hunt and survive.

It became apparent very quickly that law school doesn’t teach you a good number of things about entering the profession. Like how to present your legal research to a fastidious lawyer in a way that does not irritate him. Or that ‘taking ownership of a file’ is a more elusive instruction than it seems. Or figuring out your own professional writing style. The ‘steep learning curve’ is one that tends at an 89 degree angle towards an infinite endpoint.

“There’s no such thing as a work-life balance. I prefer to call it work-life integration” they helpfully warned us on our first day. There was nervous laughter from the bright-eyed bushy-tailed trainees. “It’s not a joke. I’m just trying to make sure your expectations are in line with reality from the outset.”

The reality is that law is a demanding profession. It is a devoted lover that needs 100 percent of your mental energy and effort. A 99-percent day means missing out something, drafting an imprecise statement, or sloppy work.

Being the green little plankton in this ocean, the feeling of incompetency is inevitable, but still worrying. We naturally want to get things right. It is frustrating when a partner is explaining a case theory you’re struggling to follow. It is frustrating when an answer to your research question cannot be found. It is frustrating when your drafts keep coming back looking drastically different.
I have been fortunate to have had associates and partners generously carve out portions of their billable time to patiently explain or go through work with me. Every fortnight, my mentor sits me down on an ironically menacing transparent chair, and evaluates areas of my work he thinks there is room for improvement.

Apart from work, I have been given valuable advice on career, decorum, and understanding people. This mentorship from the people I work with has been a support system and guiding path that has eased the agonizing learning journey.

I am technically on my 8th month of training, having already done six months of Part A Relevant Legal Training with TSMP. Admittedly, with that trial-run experience, my ‘first month’ of traineeship has been considerably easier. I no longer feel like I am groping my way in the dark. It is comforting to know that with time, effort and late nights, you do get better at it. I guess being thrown into the deep end is the most effective way to learn how to swim.

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