We recently sat down with two of our Trainee Solicitors, Sarah-Jane Garner and Imogen Fitzgerald, to get a better sense of what it’s like to undertake a Training Contract with Streeter Marshall LLP.

What would be your top tips when applying for a Training Contract?

S-JG: Firstly, it is essential to thoroughly research the firms to which you are applying to make sure that they align with your interests.  This will help you narrow down your search and target your applications more effectively.  Craft a tailored cover letter that is relevant to that specific firm and showcases any relevant experiences or skills that make you a strong candidate.  When you are applying, do not be afraid to get in touch with current Trainees on LinkedIn to ask questions about their experiences.  The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel. 

Demonstrating genuine enthusiasm and interest in the firm will greatly enhance the strength of your application and performance in interviews.  Try to avoid rehearsing what you think your interviewers want to hear, as ultimately your interviewers are seeking candidates who can make a valuable contribution and be a positive addition to the firm.  Being a Trainee is an exciting time, and you are more likely to thrive and enjoy your training if you are working in areas of law that genuinely interest you.

If you are unsuccessful, consider asking the firm for feedback to help you identify any areas of improvement for future applications.  As many Trainees will know, applying for Training Contracts can be a lengthy and challenging process, so try to not feel disheartened if you are not immediately successful.  Each rejection should be viewed as simply a stepping stone towards securing the right Training Contract for you. 

IF It is important to be proactive whilst going through the application process. There are a range of ways to achieve this, from networking with other legal professionals to attending legal events and joining relevant organisations to build connections and gain insights into the industry. The more knowledge you can arm yourself with, the better.

In addition to demonstrating enthusiasm for a career in law, you must ensure you are well equipped for interviews. Interviews are crucial when it comes to securing a Training Contract and practicing your interview skills will never be a waste of time. There are many useful resources for this online and even if an interview does not lead to a Training Contract, the interview itself will be good practice for the next. Make sure to practice answering common interview questions. However, above all, be yourself. This will make the process much easier. You should always be fully prepared for an interview, but try to view interviews as an exciting opportunity to showcase your own skills and experience. It is completely normal to feel apprehensive and nervous, but have confidence in your abilities and let the firm see your personality as well as your knowledge and experience.

Looking ahead, what are your expectations as you go from trainee solicitor to newly qualified solicitor?

S-JG:  I think that it is important to recognise that from the moment you qualify as a solicitor, you are only a moment more experienced than you were as a Trainee.  Therefore, I expect that I will still require the help and guidance of my colleagues, as I will still be far from an expert in my field!  Throughout my training, my supervisors have always been there to support me and answer all of my questions and whilst I have already learnt a great deal, I expect that there will be gaps in my knowledge for years to come.  There is no shame in admitting that you do not know everything just yet, and it is always important to ask for help when needed so that you can continue to learn and develop.

Many Trainees including myself, look towards qualification with a sense of relief that the journey from being law student to a solicitor is finally complete.  However, I think that it is important to remember that becoming a solicitor will be just as challenging and that there will be good days and not-so-good days. Despite this, I am still extremely excited to qualify and I feel prepared to take on the responsibilities that come with being a solicitor.

IF: Two years may sound like a long time but in reality my Training Contract has gone by extremely quickly. Many people I have spoken to have said the same and although qualification is, of course, exciting, it also entails a lot of responsibility. It is therefore important to remember that whilst you are only just starting your career as a solicitor specialising in your chosen area of law, you are surrounded by experts who are there to offer guidance when needed. I have the utmost confidence that upon qualification I will continue to receive support from Streeter Marshall when I need it, but that they will also encourage me to continue to develop my skill set and gain greater responsibility over matters.

How has Streeter Marshall facilitated your training?

S-JG: As long as you are inquisitive and open to new challenges, then Streeter Marshall provides a great environment for you to learn and grow. You will be given many opportunities to be challenged which often requires stepping outside of your comfort zone.  That being said, you are not expected to know everything, and my supervisors and colleagues have always been there to help and support me.  

Streeter Marshall’s training program places a strong emphasis on developing your confidence and professionalism early on.  I have been exposed to a wide range of industries and clients, ranging from small startups to larger companies, and spanning various sectors.  Every day is different, and you are given a diverse workload so that you can continually build on your knowledge and become a well-rounded NQ solicitor. 

I have also studied the Legal Practice Course (LPC) whilst training with Streeter Marshall.  At first, I was concerned about whether I would have the time to study and take my exams whilst also being a full-time Trainee.  However, Streeter Marshall had the confidence in my ability, and have fully supported me so that I am able to balance full-time hours and my studies at the same time.

IF:
I have really enjoyed my training at Streeter Marshall. My supervisors have instinctively known the right time to introduce new things for me to handle so that I feel like I am being challenged without being overwhelmed. The training process is very much a case of being given work to see what my approach towards it would be, but in the knowledge that if I need a little extra guidance their door is always open.

I was pleasantly surprised by the level of face-to-face dealings I have had with clients since the start of my Training Contract. This has really allowed my confidence to grow and shown the importance of effectively managing clients’ expectations.

Similarly, I have enjoyed the experience of attending conferences and hearings whilst completing my contentious seat. There is no better way to get to grips with the progression of a matter than being there in person and I am glad that Streeter Marshall takes a very proactive stance in getting Trainees involved along every step of the way.

What is the social life at Streeter Marshall like?

S-JG:  Streeter Marshall organises a variety of social events throughout the year, ranging from drinks at a local pub to annual events such as the Christmas Party.  I have had the opportunity to organise events and socials myself, and there is a great group of Paralegals, Trainees and Newly Qualified Solicitors at Streeter Marshall who are keen to meet up and help one another over a drink or two!

There are also opportunities to get involved in networking events, such as Croydon Young Professionals Group (CYPG).  Streeter Marshall is sponsoring the next CYPG event, which will be a great opportunity for young professionals in the local area to build relationships with their peers at other professional services.

IF: I have been to various social events since starting at Streeter Marshall. Some events are aimed at the Paralegals, Trainees and Newly Qualified Solicitors, whilst others are firm-wide. There is also our annual summer party, which everyone at the firm looks forward to and is a chance to network with clients as well.

We have five offices and so the social events are a good opportunity to meet colleagues that you will not necessarily see day-to-day. It is always nice putting a face to a name and everyone is incredibly friendly.