Starting my traineeship in 2021, one of the biggest worries I had was that I wouldn't get the immersive learning experience that those who came before me had received. The pandemic raised many questions within the profession - including the question as to how the trainee experience could be maintained whilst almost everyone was permanently based at home.
Sitting in on an impromptu client meeting, going on a site visit or just being in a busy office would have been natural trainee experiences prior to the pandemic - experiences which would have been beneficial to meet our PEAT 2 outcomes.
I'm glad to say my worries were unfounded. Almost all of our mandatory CPD training sessions have been taught in-person. One of the things that was uppermost in the minds of the leadership team here at Morton Fraser was that learning and development is essential to everyone's personal growth and career progression. A return to the office had to be for something purposeful, otherwise it would just be another place to wear your headphones. With that in mind, MF created a safe return to the office and learning and development was prioritised as an aspect of working life, where people could come together to learn. My trainee manager would work in the office at least two days a week - with other colleagues being in on other days to ensure there was always someone on hand to answer more complex questions face-to-face. The continuous office presence of colleagues has enabled me to build relationships and helped me to integrate into the team.
One of the most important things for any young solicitor is to continue to progress and learn new skills at every opportunity. Due to the presence of senior colleagues in the office, I felt confident taking on difficult or complex tasks. Although as trainees, we would typically be assigned to smaller teams within a division, my regular presence in the office allowed me to assist colleagues in the wider department.
I'm lucky to work in an environment where further development permeates the work that we do. Being constantly exposed to new clients, new matters and different techniques has meant a more beneficial training experience. This has been hugely valuable in my progression toward meeting my PEAT 2 outcomes - allowing me to develop new techniques for effective time management, develop my legal knowledge outside my comfort zone and ultimately become a better-rounded trainee solicitor.
I have also been fortunate to benefit from the recent return of networking events. Relationship building, getting to know our clients and their needs are vital parts of the legal profession that many take for granted, and are closely connected to development. Recognising this through reflective practice, taking a moment to acknowledge what has been learnt, is key to the personal development process. As trainees at Morton Fraser we are encouraged to attend and get involved in these events where it's possible. The relationships we make early in our careers are important and the willingness to include the trainees in events has been a real positive.
The last nine months have been challenging, but with the right attitude and support my colleagues and I have made it a real success. Being a trainee during a pandemic was never going to be easy - but with normality on the horizon it's only going to become easier to develop our skills and build on those relationships we had only made previously over a screen.