It can be difficult when the time comes to choose which departments you want to work in during your training contract, especially if you are as indecisive as I am! Luckily for me, towards the end of my first seat, the opportunity arose for a trainee to be sent on secondment to work in-house with one of TLT's biggest clients.
Being based in TLT's Bristol office, the decision to put my name forward for a six month secondment in Halifax was, at first, a bit daunting. I asked my fiancée how he would feel if I moved up north for a short time, to which he replied "Great! I can have three months of eating pizza and playing xBox!" With such a show of support, I knew that I had to go for it!
Having talked through the practicalities, TLT and the client were really supportive and allowed another trainee and I to share the secondment, spending three months each living in Leeds and working with the client, who is based in Halifax.
Having never experienced the wonders of the north of England, and having never worked in-house before, I wasn't really sure what to expect. So off I went, slightly nervous, early one Monday morning. I arrived in Halifax to glorious sunshine and a group of wonderful people who went out of their way to make me feel extremely welcome. I knew I would feel right at home when one of the first things I was shown was the tea making facilities!
Before starting the secondment, if I am honest, I wasn't really sure I would enjoy the type of work which I knew I would be doing. But it just goes to show that if you don't try it you will never know! I was given a great variety of work and, within a very short space of time I knew that I was going to enjoy working in-house.
My time with the client was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had to date. I found it really interesting to work on claims and disputes which the client typically deals with in-house, rather than sending to an external law firm like TLT.
The legal work involved was very different to that which I had done previously and was a great deal more varied. Because of the more general nature of the in-house team I was working with, I was given my own workload and was responsible for a number of matters from initial inquiry to resolution. As such, a great deal of trust was placed in me and I was given a level of freedom and responsibility which allowed me to learn a lot within short space of time and really show what I could do!
The term "commercial awareness" is used a lot throughout the training contract application process, as well as during your time as a trainee. Spending time in-house really helped me to appreciate just how important it is to clients for their legal advisors to appreciate the importance of providing clear, relevant and concise advice.
I absolutely loved my time on secondment. It was an invaluable learning experience and really helped me build my confidence. I would highly recommend it to any trainee who is up for a challenge!
(Kate joined us as a trainee in September 2012 and studied History at Cardiff University and her GDL and LPC at the University of Law in Bristol)