Arlene Gibbs, a Vice Convener of the In-house Lawyers Committee and solicitor at Aberdeenshire Council, asked a group of public sector NQ and trainee solicitors what they wish they’d known before starting their in-house traineeships. With the theme of ‘it’s ok to…’, here’s what they came up with:

It’s ok to…

  • Ask questions – no questions are silly!
  • Admit you don’t know something, and ask for help to understand it
  • Admit you’ve made a mistake, and ask for help
  • Say you are not ok and not coping (with workload, or other things) and ask to discuss with your manager
  • Ask for help in prioritising workload tasks
  • Speak up – your views and perspectives are just as valuable as more senior colleagues
  • Ask who your client is and for clarity about who may allocate you work
  • Take time to build relationships and get to know people, understand the strategic view of the organisation and how the departments fit together
  • Manage expectations of your clients
  • Be yourself. Although we all have the same professional obligations to fulfil, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to being a lawyer
  • Put work aside and come back to it (for example if you’re stuck, come back with fresh eyes)
  • Ask for training / CPD in areas you feel you need it
  • Ask to speak to your manager about deadlines, priorities, expectations of clients and realistic timescales
  • Seek and provide peer to peer support with fellow trainees

The Law Society provides dedicated help and support for all trainees. You can contact legaleduc@lawscot.org.uk to discuss any concerns on a confidential or anonymous basis. An experienced member of staff will be able to offer you guidance, advice and assistance should you need help in dealing with any issues affecting your traineeship.

You can also contact inhouse@lawscot.org.uk if you have any specific questions about working in-house or if you’d like to be connected to a member of the In-house Lawyers Committee