Letitia is another of our trainee bloggers from Brodies LLP. Originally from York, Letitia obtained her first degree in English from the University of St Andrews, and her LLB and Diploma from the University of Edinburgh. She is halfway through her first seat in Energy & Infrastructure.

Catching the networking bug

As my colleague Katherine mentioned in her November post, one of the most exciting aspects of the traineeship is having the freedom and encouragement to take charge of your own career.

We first years are now five months in, and with one PEAT2 review down and the next one just around the corner, I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve managed to take charge of my career in the short time that I’ve been here. To some extent, particularly early in the traineeship, much of your day-to-day work will come down to what your team needs you to do, and the level of independence you have will vary widely from seat to seat. However there are some areas of work that will always enable you to take the reins if you wish. Networking, in particular, is one.

I’ll begin with one crucial point: as with so much in the life of the trainee, preparation – even a small amount – will be key, both to success and enjoyment! Quite often you can find yourself attending events on technical industry issues, or very complex areas of law, that aren’t necessarily pitched for the novice. Diving in with no strategy can leave you feeling lost and daunted. But if you accept your limits, and work with them to plan your approach to an event, you can come away with some great contacts, boosted confidence and excellent commercial insight.

I had my first experience of solo networking last month, when I went along to a panel discussion on the future of energy storage in the UK. Before the event, my knowledge of the industry and chosen topic was entry level, at best, but I read up on the speakers beforehand, had a look at some recent articles on the issue, and talked to members of my team to get a feel for points of particular interest for them. I left with a wealth of new understanding and context to inform my work, and wrote up my notes from the discussion for the firm’s Renewables Blog.

Often the best part of networking is harvesting your experience afterwards – you get to use the notes you made, the contact cards you collected, and the discussions you had in whatever way you think best. This is where it can feel like you’re really taking control, and that your brand new career is taking shape.

If you come across similar opportunities within your firm or university, my advice is straightforward: get involved! As a trainee or student you’re in the best possible position: you’re simply there to learn – so just soak up the atmosphere and ask questions as much as you can. Every event will be easier than the one before, and discovering that you can hold your own in discussions that were completely foreign just a few months ago is a truly brilliant feeling.

The traineeship

Finish your legal education by learning 'on the job' working as a trainee under the supervision of a Scots-qualified solicitor. Traineeships last for a period of two years and, after its successful completion, you are ready to apply to take out a solicitor's practising certificate.