Letitia is one 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 graduate LLB and Diploma from the University of Edinburgh. She is three months into her second seat with the Personal & Family department.

Halfway home: highlights and challenges from first year

Ah, July. Perennially wet, midge-ridden and bereft of good cinema it may be, but it’s a good month for the first year trainees at Brodies. Along with our colleagues across Scotland who are approaching the same milestone at various points this summer, in late July we will cross the threshold from first to second year, and enter the final twelve months of our legal training.

It’s a time to take stock, regroup and prepare for the next phase. I know I’m not alone in wondering where on earth the past year has gone (though I’m taking that as a good sign!) so I thought I’d share a few of the highlights and challenges of my traineeship so far. Hopefully I’ll show that with a seize-the-day approach, you can pack far more into PEAT2 than you might think.

Early in my first seat in Energy & Infrastructure, my team was instructed to compile a report analysing the legal risks relating to a client’s project. I spent my first couple of months in the job accompanying the partner and the client to meetings, taking part in conference calls, and drafting sections of the report myself. It was my first experience of considering and communicating legal issues in the context of a client’s commercial needs, and I found it fascinating. I also spent the run-up to Christmas tracking the progress of a Bill through parliament, and updating my team on debates, suggested amendments and commentary in the press. As a self-confessed statute nerd, I enjoyed this very much.

In December, a colleague and I hosted a large-scale completion meeting at short notice. Though intense and slightly daunting at first, it was a great feeling sending out packs of signed documents to all parties at the end of the day, and coming in the next morning to an email from the client thanking us for our efforts.

Transitioning from Energy & Infrastructure to the Personal & Family team was a challenge – the change in focus from corporate to personal clients required a shift in my approach, with new considerations around ethics and communication coming into play. I’d always wanted to work closely with people, though, so I was keen for the chance to combine this with stimulating legal work.

Three months in, I’m running several executries, assisting fee-earners with estate planning exercises and drafting wills and powers of attorney. It’s a busy team, and the degree of autonomy I’ve got is certainly keeping me on my toes, but I’m enjoying it, and looking forward to developing further as the seat progresses. There’s a huge sense of responsibility in ensuring that you have explained documents clearly to clients, and keeping issues such as capacity in mind at all times; but the satisfaction of building rapport, putting a client at ease and helping them to draw a line under their affairs has been the highlight of my traineeship so far.

Of course, the traineeship is about you getting to know your firm (and vice versa) as well as the work that you do, and at Brodies there’s been no shortage of firm-wide events and initiatives to get involved in. I’ve taken part in pub quizzes, walked 26 miles on the Maggie’s Culture Crawl and Rob Roy Challenge, helped to organise our charity auction, and joined the Brodies band in serenading our colleagues at a fundraising gig!

It’s been an action-packed year, and I’m looking forward to meeting our new tranche of trainees in the next few weeks. Keep watching this space for news from the other side (ie second year) in the coming months!

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.