Human Resources (HR) Manager Laura Cowan and Graduate Recruitment Specialist Tamara Engelsman explain how the firm's training contract works.
Why do you use a rotational training system?
Doing a number of seats gives you an insight into the different areas of the firm's business. You can then make an informed choice at the end of your training contract about where you would like to qualify – you might have some idea when you join the firm, but often trainees find out about other areas during the two years and their views change.
What seats are trainees likely to do?
We ask you to spend 12 months of your training contract in two of our three core practice areas: Corporate, Banking and International Capital Markets. You also have to fulfil the Law Society requirement that you gain contentious experience. Beyond that, it's up to you – there's a wide range of seats available in our other practice areas, including Real Estate and Tax. You also have the opportunity to apply for a secondment to a client or to one of our overseas offices.
How do you allocate seats to trainees?
We send you information about our practice areas before you start at the firm and ask you where you would like to sit in your first seat. A couple of months after you join we hold a seat planning information evening so you have the opportunity to speak to trainees and partners in the different practice areas. You'll then have a meeting with me where you'll specify which other seats you'd like to do and we'll plan your two years together. You're able to select a priority seat where you're guaranteed to sit, unless exceptional business needs or other extenuating circumstances arise, and most trainees get their other requested seats as well. If your preferences change later, you can talk to me and we'll change your seat plan if possible.
How do trainees work with other lawyers?
You'll share an office with a senior associate or a partner, known here as a trainer. They'll allocate work to you and support you through your seat as a mentor.
Your trainer will also make sure you work with other lawyers in the department so you get exposure to different matters, meet different people, and get access to the best possible opportunities and experiences.
What other training and support is available to trainees?
All trainees do the Professional Skills Course during their training contract and also attend departmental-specific training. There is a lot of support in place to help trainees not only from their trainers but also from their PA, the document production team, library services and the IT department to name a few.
My HR team is specifically dedicated to trainees and we provide them with a lot of support. There's a general HR team within each department and a partner in each department responsible for trainees, both of whom you could also approach with any issues. We also have a partner who's an overall training principal for all the trainees and is also available to support trainees.
How are trainees assessed?
In each seat you'll have an informal mid-seat review and a formal appraisal at the end. We also encourage trainers and all our other lawyers to give trainees regular informal feedback on how they're doing and how they could improve.
How does the qualification process work?
We try to make it as transparent a process as possible, so I advertise the newly-qualified solicitor (NQ) positions that will be available and trainees then submit applications for them. The partners in each department consider these applications, speak to trainees' supervisors, and make the decisions based on individual performance. We try to retain as many trainees as possible. Normally a high proportion of our trainees stay on at the firm when they qualify – 82 per cent in the latest qualifying intake.