Before we look at why that is so wonderful, let's just take stock of what you've achieved so far.
You have worked hard at school and secured the grades to get yourself a place at a decent university. You have managed to slog your way through 3 or 4 years in that university, sending in coursework, attending lectures and tutorials and passing law exams. No doubt overcoming all sorts of obstacles from frozen computers (frozen flats !) lack of paper, loss of files, missed buses, hangovers, personal issues and maybe even personal tragedies. Despite all that, you not only passed but you must have got a decent pass because you were one of the few to secure a place on the Diploma course, which you must have also passed and then, joy of joys, you got a traineeship.
So to take stock of your life at this point, let me play with some figures to put this into some kind of perspective.
From 100 of your friends and peers who started secondary school, not all would have completed their final year. Less still would have sat exams and even then, not all would pass.
So maybe 65 would still be in the running for a place at Uni.
Depending on when you applied, either all 65 or maybe 12 would get a place. But let's stick with 65 for now.
Not all would take up their offered place because they got a job, went on a gap year and fell in love or decided to carry on travelling or go for a Phd or some other degree. There will be some who go on to collect degrees and do nothing else.
So 43 start their first year at Uni.
Some fall out with their tutors, their parents, their boyfriend/girlfriend or themselves and decide that Uni wasn't for them after all. And a few more fail to turn up for lectures or tutorials and are told that Uni is not for them after all.
There are 28 left.
Year two claims a couple more and year 3 another bunch fall by the wayside for one or all of the reasons above.
22 of you sit final exams.
14 pass but only a small number pass with a sufficiently high mark to get the offer of a place on the Diploma.
You and 3 others managed that.
But only 1 got offered a traineeship…and that's you that is.
But now as you prepare to start your traineeship, none of the above matters to your new employer because you still have some more obstacles to get over.
Your new employer chose you over a very large group of others who applied, so they liked what they saw on paper.
That just gets you in the door.
Now is the time to impress by demonstrating through action, that they made the right choice.
You may have heard the phrase "Add value" before in many different contexts but what it means for you, now as you sit waiting on your first batch of work is this:
Adding value means going beyond the basic and obvious parts of being an employee.
Some employees that I have hired feel that by turning up on time they are doing me a favour.
Turning up on time, appropriately dressed, sober with all your domestic and personal problems left behind is the minimum required of any employee. So to rise above the masses here's what to do:
Don't ever bring your employer problems – bring them solutions to problems.
Saying things like "That's not my job", is the equivalent of saying "I don't want to work here"
Depending on the size of the firm you are working for, there will be different levels or strata where people operate.
Level 1 – Is for rank and file work such as data input, routine and secretarial work.
Level 2 – Is people who make sure that Level 1 work gets done; so they are supervisors, or junior lawyers.
Level 3 – Is comprised of jobs that create the work that Levels 1 and 2 do, such as directors , middle managers and associate lawyers..
Level 4 – Are higher level supervisory jobs to make sure that those at level 3 actually create the work and that the work they create is useful such as senior partners.
Level 5 – You have people who manage the supervisors of the work creators or the Chief Executive Officers and Managing Partners.
Underlying these levels is the time that each worker spends thinking about work. The lower the level, the shorter the time.
Level 1 workers think in terms of one day to the next, whereas level 3 think in terms of months and Levels 4 and 5 think in terms of years.
This has been studied extensively and it was discovered that people are hardwired to think in differing time spans. Most feel comfortable looking forward only a day or two. Some can look months ahead. But those who can see years into the future are very few indeed.
How far ahead do you look?
The further you look, the more value you can add.
Why is the Law the Best Choice of Profession?
Going back to what I said earlier, I said that deciding to become a solicitor was one of the best choices you've made. I should also point out that I have met a lot of young solicitors who had no say in the matter; their parents/ Grandparents or significant other in their life decided for them. If that's the case, you should probably take long hard look at what you really want to do….but for now let's concentrate on the benefits of being a solicitor and how this make you a better trainee.
The law impacts every area of life. If you decide that on completion of your traineeship that you don't want to be a lawyer or you don't get offered a job as a lawyer, a whole new range of opportunities opens up to you. You will have many more choices in the job market than other graduates or trained professionals. So as you deal with clients and interact with their information, make a point of getting to know their business as if you were to work for them. It will enable you to see through the legal problems and make suggestions.
The law allows you to help people. Simply knowing how to access the law, decisions and legislation puts you at a huge advantage as you go through life. You will get lots of requests from friends to help them with their legal challenges. Help them because the experience will help you.
The law is going through massive change. The impact of the Legal Services Act, the recession and technology are opening up the law and the way it will be delivered in the future. You are right at the cusp of the old way and the new way. Respect the old way, but learn about the changes and above all consider how what you do affects the people you serve; your employer and your employers clients.
As long as your mission is to deliver new and better services to your employer and their clients, then you can't go wrong.
The fact that you've read this far is a credit to you. Going forward, there will be lots more obstacles in the next two years for you to overcome. There will be office politics (avoid), there will be bad employees that you come across (don't associate with them), there will be great jokes to e-mail to friends ( delete them). There is no one right way to complete a traineeship but there are many ways to screw it up. Of the 100 of your friends who started this journey in 1st year at secondary school, you are the one with no history of screwing it up…so don't start now.
All the best.