Quitting my Law Training Contract during my First Seat - Help!

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aspiringlawyerNW
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(Original post by Solicon)
Hi,

I agree. Now that Xmas has gone and we are in 2019 I have decided to stay in my TC. Whether or not I will be a lawyer post-qualification I dont know but it has gotten a bit better and, although the culture shock of partners and associates speaking to me like crap and making faces at anything I say still does shock me, it has seemed to subside and I am learning to live with it better.

Also, seat moves are in March so there is not much time left with this hell of a team.

Thanks
So happy to hear it's improved/improving!
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Crazy Jamie
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(Original post by Solicon)
Hi,

I agree. Now that Xmas has gone and we are in 2019 I have decided to stay in my TC. Whether or not I will be a lawyer post-qualification I dont know but it has gotten a bit better and, although the culture shock of partners and associates speaking to me like crap and making faces at anything I say still does shock me, it has seemed to subside and I am learning to live with it better.

Also, seat moves are in March so there is not much time left with this hell of a team.

Thanks
Great to hear that things are improving, even if only slightly. Hopefully that trend continues in your next seat.
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jacketpotato
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I am happy to hear that things are improving.

I can confirm that seat changes can make a huge difference. Both because you will be working with different people who may have a different outlook on life, and because you will know more when you start (some people do not make enough allowance for first seat trainees), and because you will be doing a different type of work that you might find more interesting.

Just grin and bear it until March. As a first seat trainee supervisor myself I really hope the next seat goes better for you.
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Solicon
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(Original post by jacketpotato)
I am happy to hear that things are improving.

I can confirm that seat changes can make a huge difference. Both because you will be working with different people who may have a different outlook on life, and because you will know more when you start (some people do not make enough allowance for first seat trainees), and because you will be doing a different type of work that you might find more interesting.

Just grin and bear it until March. As a first seat trainee supervisor myself I really hope the next seat goes better for you.
I hope the next seat is better.

I think I'm getting better but people seem to give me hardly any work and instead give the paralegal so much. I queried it before and someone told me it's because the paralegal charges cheaper fees so they want to use him instead but literally I sit there with hardly anything to do. I feel now I could be utilised so much but people tend to ignore me even when I ask for work verbally and via email - literally had barely anything to do the past few days and its getting me so mad. I feel like they aren't even bothering to train me which is so bad considering I'm at a firm which is supposed to be one of the best.

Is this normal?
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jacketpotato
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(Original post by Solicon)
I hope the next seat is better.

I think I'm getting better but people seem to give me hardly any work and instead give the paralegal so much. I queried it before and someone told me it's because the paralegal charges cheaper fees so they want to use him instead but literally I sit there with hardly anything to do. I feel now I could be utilised so much but people tend to ignore me even when I ask for work verbally and via email - literally had barely anything to do the past few days and its getting me so mad. I feel like they aren't even bothering to train me which is so bad considering I'm at a firm which is supposed to be one of the best.

Is this normal?
Hi, sorry to hear about this.

I would not describe this situation as "normal". It is bad management. However, it does happen.

Law firms are not always very good at allocating work fairly among the team. An awful lot of law firms have a situation where some people are always very busy and other people are always quiet.

It is not unusual at all for first seat trainees to be quiet. At this stage of your career you are still very green. People often feel it is easier and quicker to do the work themselves, than it is to supervise the trainee.

It is common for people to give work to paralegal rather than trainees. This is often simply because the paralegal has been in the department longer so is more of a known quantity - people naturally prefer to work with people they know than people they don't. From the associate's perspective, it is easier to give work to a paralegal who already knows what they are doing than to take the risk of giving that work to an untested trainee or taking the time to explain it to them. This is definitely bad practice - part of the job of an associate is to involve trainees and take the time to explain things to them - but you can see how it happens.

Another possibility is that the department is simply overstaffed at the trainee/paralegal end. It does happen that a department is just quiet for the duration of your seat or that the department has hired too many junior people - for example if the department has hired a lot of newly qualified solicitors that will result in less work flowing down to trainees than in a department with lots of mid level and senior associates. The work pattern for trainees tends to be more up-and-down than the work pattern for associates, because during quiet periods associates often decide to do the junior level work themselves rather than delegating it so that they can meet their target hours !

My suggestion would be send an email around the department to say that you have capacity and that you would be happy to help if anyone needs assistance. It is also a good idea to do a floor walk round the department to tell the partners and associates that you have capacity and ask whether there is anything you can help with. Then at least you are demonstrating a good attitude. You can't do any more than that really.

To be honest I would not stress too much about this. If you have asked for work but still don't get enough, that isn't the end of the world. Just use the time to relax and do things like read the PLC weekly updates so at least you are building your technical knowledge. You can have a fresh start in your next seat.
Last edited by jacketpotato; 2 years ago
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Solicon
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#26
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(Original post by jacketpotato)
Hi, sorry to hear about this.

I would not describe this situation as "normal". It is bad management. However, it does happen.

Law firms are not always very good at allocating work fairly among the team. An awful lot of law firms have a situation where some people are always very busy and other people are always quiet.

It is not unusual at all for first seat trainees to be quiet. At this stage of your career you are still very green. People often feel it is easier and quicker to do the work themselves, than it is to supervise the trainee.

It is common for people to give work to paralegal rather than trainees. This is often simply because the paralegal has been in the department longer so is more of a known quantity - people naturally prefer to work with people they know than people they don't. From the associate's perspective, it is easier to give work to a paralegal who already knows what they are doing than to take the risk of giving that work to an untested trainee or taking the time to explain it to them. This is definitely bad practice - part of the job of an associate is to involve trainees and take the time to explain things to them - but you can see how it happens.

Another possibility is that the department is simply overstaffed at the trainee/paralegal end. It does happen that a department is just quiet for the duration of your seat or that the department has hired too many junior people - for example if the department has hired a lot of newly qualified solicitors that will result in less work flowing down to trainees than in a department with lots of mid level and senior associates. The work pattern for trainees tends to be more up-and-down than the work pattern for associates, because during quiet periods associates often decide to do the junior level work themselves rather than delegating it so that they can meet their target hours !

My suggestion would be send an email around the department to say that you have capacity and that you would be happy to help if anyone needs assistance. It is also a good idea to do a floor walk round the department to tell the partners and associates that you have capacity and ask whether there is anything you can help with. Then at least you are demonstrating a good attitude. You can't do any more than that really.

To be honest I would not stress too much about this. If you have asked for work but still don't get enough, that isn't the end of the world. Just use the time to relax and do things like read the PLC weekly updates so at least you are building your technical knowledge. You can have a fresh start in your next seat.
Thank you very much I am glad I have made the decision to stay and the feedback from everyone on this thread has been amazing.
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Amatron
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Hi Solicon, I had to respond to your post. I am also a trainee hating my seat in commercial property too, though I have had a couple of years experience as a paralegal. My boss does not train me or explain things at all and I feel like I’m just supposed to know everything already. I am due to move seats in April, but will still need to be working with him a lot and I have just totally lost the love for it. Like you, I am trying to stick it out until I’m qualified but then want to move abroad anyway as I am sick of the UK. Just wanted to let you know that you are not the only one out there struggling!
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The West Wing
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(Original post by Amatron)
Hi Solicon, I had to respond to your post. I am also a trainee hating my seat in commercial property too, though I have had a couple of years experience as a paralegal. My boss does not train me or explain things at all and I feel like I’m just supposed to know everything already. I am due to move seats in April, but will still need to be working with him a lot and I have just totally lost the love for it. Like you, I am trying to stick it out until I’m qualified but then want to move abroad anyway as I am sick of the UK. Just wanted to let you know that you are not the only one out there struggling!
There's often no time to explain things and you are expected to be able to work things out for yourself. There's few things that you can't figure out from PLC or just by reading the documents and when you do have questions you should store them up for a time when your supervisor isn't being chased for things or busy trying to get docs out.

Each seat is different and I had several seats that I hated so don't worry.

It might be the firm as well. I strongly prefer my new firm and its culture to the firm I did my training contract with.
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Solicon
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I'm in a corporate-focused seat now. I would definitely say my mental health has deteriorated a lot.
(Original post by Amatron)
Hi Solicon, I had to respond to your post. I am also a trainee hating my seat in commercial property too, though I have had a couple of years experience as a paralegal. My boss does not train me or explain things at all and I feel like I’m just supposed to know everything already. I am due to move seats in April, but will still need to be working with him a lot and I have just totally lost the love for it. Like you, I am trying to stick it out until I’m qualified but then want to move abroad anyway as I am sick of the UK. Just wanted to let you know that you are not the only one out there struggling!
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aspiringlawyerNW
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Have things not improved at all for you?
(Original post by Solicon)
I'm in a corporate-focused seat now. I would definitely say my mental health has deteriorated a lot.
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Amatron
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Sorry to hear that your next seat has not improved? I don’t know about you but I can’t help but worry law is the wrong choice quite often.
Saying that, a lot of people don’t like their jobs.
(Original post by Solicon)
I'm in a corporate-focused seat now. I would definitely say my mental health has deteriorated a lot.
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Solicon
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Things are BETTER - people are nicer but the hours are horrendous which is a shame because I find it semi-interesting.
(Original post by AndrewMarkSP)
Have things not improved at all for you?
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Solicon
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Update: the hours are horrendous. Making me think I should definitely quit or assign to a small firm.
(Original post by Amatron)
Sorry to hear that your next seat has not improved? I don’t know about you but I can’t help but worry law is the wrong choice quite often.
Saying that, a lot of people don’t like their jobs.
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aspiringlawyerNW
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(Original post by Solicon)
Update: the hours are horrendous. Making me think I should definitely quit or assign to a small firm.
What are they typical hours that they have you working? Do you have a supervisor or mentor that you'd be able to speak to. At the end of the day, if this wasn't what was communicated prior to you starting then maybe you should confront them about it...
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aspiringlawyerNW
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(Original post by J-SP)
I’m not sure confronting them is a good idea.

Commercial law firms are known to have crazy and unpredictable hours. It’s not a good thing (it’s one of the reasons I chose to leave) but there is an expectation that candidates know what they are letting themselves in for in regards to potential hours and late night/over nighters.

When to raise it is if you are the only one or only one of a few people who is constantly in the office at all hours. But even then you have to carefully analyse whether that is down to your working style (do you procrastinate a lot) or is it down to poor workflow from higher up the food chain.
Confronting wasn't a good word! Flagging would be more appropriate, I guess! I've heard from some trainees at Addleshaw Goddard that when they're staying much later than expected, nobody keeps track of it. So they feel too awkward trying to take time back (which the company says they encourage) and end up doing crazy hours.

Or like you said, it could be something else (procrastination) that could be addressed.
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aspiringlawyerNW
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(Original post by J-SP)
Undoubtedly it is being tracked unless you are not recording hours (which most firms do).

People have to take a view as to what’s going around them, not necessarily what’s going on with them. If everyone is doing crazy hours, then it’s just busy and generally you just have to suck it up. If other people are working late but then coming in late or leaving early at another time, then trainees need to have the balls to go to their line manager and say they’d like to do the same. Stating it is “awkward” is part of the problem - if people don’t know what you are feeling, then how are they supposed to react to it. Where there are issues are when you are the only one working late or one of a select few constantly requested to stay back in the office or check emails post whatever time. If that’s regularly occurring and you know other people could reasonably be doing it, then it’s time to flag up to line managers or HR.

With any of these discussions though, don’t come in talking about the problem. Focus your conversation on the suitable solution you have already considered, rather than you asking the other person to find a solution for you.
I completely agree with all of this. That's what I was trying (not very well) to say.
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jacketpotato
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That's a shame.

Corporate tends to be an "up and down" department - i.e. there will be times when you have to work late, and times when things are quieter.

How late are you working on average, would you say?
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Solicon
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It's gotten to the stage now where my mental health 8 months in just isn't improving. I have emailed the Law Society about the termination process and will hopefully be leaving at the end of June (once I have money saved/found another job).
(Original post by jacketpotato)
That's a shame.

Corporate tends to be an "up and down" department - i.e. there will be times when you have to work late, and times when things are quieter.

How late are you working on average, would you say?
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username2950448
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(Original post by Solicon)
It's gotten to the stage now where my mental health 8 months in just isn't improving. I have emailed the Law Society about the termination process and will hopefully be leaving at the end of June (once I have money saved/found another job).
No job is worth sacrificing your health. Hopefully you can slug it out until June then find some a job that you don't have to suffer to that extent on a daily basis for.
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(Original post by Solicon)
It's gotten to the stage now where my mental health 8 months in just isn't improving. I have emailed the Law Society about the termination process and will hopefully be leaving at the end of June (once I have money saved/found another job).
I think you're doing the right thing. No one can say you didn't give it a good shot, but it's having a negative effect on your mental health and sometimes it's the right thing just to admit that you've gone down a wrong path and it's time to stop and change direction.
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