Emily is a first-year trainee from Brodies LLP. Her first seat is in the Commercial Services Division. Emily obtained her LLB and Diploma from the University of Dundee. Prior to joining Brodies, she had spent almost seven years working for the Department for Work and Pensions and co-founded a commercial cleaning company.
What I've already learnt four months in
It really doesn’t feel like a year ago that I was studying the Diploma in legal practice at Dundee University, eagerly waiting for my traineeship to start.
Yet, when I received confirmation of my start date at Brodies, nerves immediately crept in. I had so many questions about what was to come. What office would I be in? What kind of work would I be doing? Most of all, I was nervous about leaving the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), where I had worked since I was 17. Amid much excitement among my now former colleagues at the DWP, the reality hit me - I really was going to be a lawyer!
So what is my life like as a real life lawyer?
Looking back since leaving DWP in May 2016, my life has changed dramatically. I am responsible for my own development, managing competing priorities, and delivering advice to clients.
My first seat is with the Commercial Services Division (CSD). CSD deals with a range of work, including: data protection, intellectual property, employee benefits and procurement. Someone once told me that I would just be dealing with contracts, but that is only part of the work that I have been doing. A seat in CSD has been an amazing opportunity to get involved in so many different areas of the law, including areas that they don’t teach you at university but are a critical part of the way businesses and society function.
I may have only been a trainee for four months but I have already been involved in a number of different projects. These have included drafting agreements such as privacy statements, terms and conditions and intellectual property documents to name but a few. I have also been involved in several procurement projects - this is particularly interesting for me given my past work experience in the public sector.
I can honestly say in four months my confidence and my knowledge have grown so much. While my colleagues may sometimes joke about me getting the tram one stop to work (it can be cold sometimes!), I am extremely grateful to them for what they have taught me.
That said, being a trainee is not all hard work and no play. Outside work, I have participated in several events, including networking at a virtual reality session during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and volunteering to do a 10k charity walk around Edinburgh. The charity walk was a fantastic opportunity to raise money for a good cause, but it also gave me an opportunity to meet colleagues from other departments.
Being a commercial lawyer has completely changed my perception of everyday life. While most people never read the small print, I find myself eagerly studying it in detail at it to see what the terms say.
What is the most important thing I have learnt so far?
The most important tip I can share is to be confident. Even when you feel like you may be drowning, you must be confident. This is something I struggled with when I started as a trainee but with the support of my mentor and my colleagues, my confidence - as well as my knowledge - has grown massively. Clients don’t want or need a nervous or unsure lawyer – they need someone who is confident and in control. While as a trainee you may not always know what you are doing, stay calm, look for the answer and if you still don’t know - ask someone.
What is next for me?
I have loved my time in CSD, but I don’t yet know what specialism I want to go into when I qualify. At the moment, I am keeping an open mind and absorbing as much knowledge as possible.
I am slowly getting used to being a trainee solicitor (it does sometimes feel surreal!) but I very much look forward to what comes next.