Tom Elstone Trainee Blog Part 2

Offering another blog entry allows me the opportunity to personally reflect on what has been an incredibly enjoyable first year in the legal profession. My first trainee blog was written just a couple of months into my first seat (Commercial Property). At that point I was still, very much, in the honeymoon period of excitement of my first ‘proper proper job.’ Yet now, a year in, sitting in my third seat (Dispute Resolution) I still wake up with the same energy to travel into work.

Property, as I mentioned in my previous entry, was not something I particularly enjoyed when studying. In practice, my experience was wholly different. Aided by a fantastic team who allowed me to settle quickly, I was able to work on a vast array of different matters under different fee earners’ guidance. I’ve discovered over the last year that learning how a certain fee earner works and operates is just as important as understanding the law itself. Seeing different fee earners approach their work in different manners allows you to pick up on different skills of each that you feel may be suitable for your own benefit.

In March 2023 I entered my second seat and first rotation. Changing seats is a tad frustrating in some ways, you spend six months trying to get to grips with a certain line of work before being moved on and starting all over again – new fee earners, new part of the office and a new area of the law. Square one again.

I was very fortunate in that Lawrence, a fellow trainee who started with me in September 2022, had just completed a six month seat in Tax & Estate Planning (TEP). With this being my second seat, Lawrence left me a comprehensive handover note that informed me of the many things he had learned over the six months he was in the department. Additionally, it gave me a flavour of the position of some of the files I was expected to take on from him. While it is rare that as trainee solicitors you will work on the same matters at the same time, this is a good example of how trainees can be a support platform for one another during your training. Often during my seat I found myself puzzling Lawrence about my work and he was able to point me in the right direction.

One of the perks of training in TEP is that a number of trainee legal executives feature in the team. The trainee legal execs have the same role as a trainee solicitor in the TEP department. This being; attending meetings, drafting Wills & LPAs and running estate administration files under the supervision of a fee earner. Being able to discuss topics with them is an enjoyable way to learn that makes your training that little bit more collaborative. I particularly enjoyed discussing more complex trust structures with Rob and Emma at the beginning of my seat – often we would build our knowledge on a topic by collectively sharing our ideas and understanding.

As mentioned earlier, I now write in my third seat – Dispute Resolution. Dispute was one of the rotations I expressed a keenness in experiencing at the beginning of my training contract. The next six months will see me work between both our Maidstone and Canterbury offices. I remain excited to see what the next twelve months of my training entails.