For hundreds of trainees across Scotland, they have had to adapt to an entirely new way of working. In March 2020, I was in the same position. With six months left until the end of my training contract, the way I worked completely changed. It will be a month that I will never forget. At the start, I was in the office at my desk and by the end, I was navigating an entirely new way of working by ‘working from home’.
At first, I was worried that working from home would affect the last few months of my traineeship and I would miss out on opportunities that I would have had. I quickly found that my worries were unfounded as everyone was in the same boat as me. I was also very lucky to be part of a supportive team that was quick to adapt and were able to work as normally as possible from home.
There have been challenges as I’ve have missed seeing my colleagues and supervisor each day to ask for their guidance. Over the months, this is something we have also adapted to.
In March, I do not think anyone could have foreseen that this new way of working would become our norm. If so, I would have grabbed some more supplies, including my office mug. In the New Year, there will be many others that will have begun their traineeship during lockdown and others that will be approaching the final stages.
If you are approaching the same milestone, here are my tips for preparing to qualify:
(1) Continue to gain experience
It is an important aspect of a training contract to continue to learn throughout. One of my worries was that I may have missed out on more opportunities to attend Court. In the end, I did not need to worry as just as we were working remotely, so were the Scottish Courts. Once you have a restricted practising certificate, the opportunities to attend Court hearings remain the same.
I was also able to gain more experience that I maybe would have because of remote CPD events. I was able to adapt my working schedule more easily to attend seminars and conferences.
Use your last quarters to take on new challenges and to develop new skills. If there is something you think you would benefit in gaining more experience in, don’t be scared to speak to your supervisor as they will be more than happy to give you some guidance.
(2) Don’t be scared to ask for help
When working from home, it can be easy to be more worried about asking for help. Don’t forget that part of your traineeship is continuing to learn; take the opportunity to ask about anything you aren’t sure about. It is important to continue to communicate with your team and supervisor. If there is an aspect you are struggling with, it is important to let someone know.
As a way to stay connected, I was fortunate to have weekly meetings with my supervisor which made a massive difference. Even after qualifying, we continue to have weekly team video calls.
(3) Make sure your paperwork is in order
At your last three month review, now is the time to start to prepare for qualifying. This includes making sure that you have all of the necessary paperwork completed. I was fortunate that I had a restricted practising certificate which made the process easier.
You can find out all information on the Law Society of Scotland website: Discharging a training contract
(4) Keep connected
Whilst working from home, it remains important to continue to network and speak with other trainees, within or out with your firm.
If you not already a member, the Scottish Young Lawyers Association is a great source of information and they host regular CPD events that allow you meet other trainees and NQs. You can find information on the website: http://www.syla.co.uk/
Qualifying during a pandemic has meant that I will now always have a story to tell. If you are now approaching your last quarter remember, there will be days that will be challenging but, if you are able to do this, you will be able to get through anything. You are learning skills that you will be able to carry with you, and knowledge that will be invaluable throughout your career.
We are all in this together, stay safe!