Advice

‘Has anyone had a good experience doing their TC remotely?’

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I’m worried new home-working polices will harm my experience, one future trainee writes

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one future trainee solicitor is concerned that the raft of new home-working policies announced by law firms in recent months will harm her training contract experience.

“Has anyone on here had a good experience doing the first year of their TC online? I’m starting in September and I’m worried that the permanent switch to WFH 50% of the time will make it far harder to get to know my team and to receive training. Perhaps I’m being overly pessimistic and I’m aware that the experience will be entirely dependant on how active your supervisor is, but it would be good to hear from current trainees. Thanks!”

If you have a career conundrum, email us at team@legalcheek.com.

55 Comments

E

In before the students masquerading as managing partners start unloading their words of wisdom.

(46)(1)

Spot On Mate

Ah yes, especially the “Lambo Driving Kirkland Rainmaker Deal Monster” types.

(14)(0)

Top 20 law firm

It’s been pretty bleak. Made all the more worse by one of the partners who insists on taking his video calls with the backdrop of his sprawling garden with manicured lawns. I’m sharing with four people a flat which is the square footage of his summer house.

(52)(2)

Bombay Bad Boy

This partner needs to improve his Summer house game.

(56)(5)

Pardna

I had a great experience as I did not have to spend time in their company and they were on call 24/7.

(18)(4)

2PQE

I’ve quite liked WFH. But I do sympathise with trainees

(10)(4)

Recently qualified

Definitely the mentorship aspect has taken a hit, no more popping your head in the door to a partner and asking a question. It is pretty isolating. Not to mention, my client facing skills- small talk, knowing how to add filler or avoid a question tactically is suffering big time

(54)(0)

Soon to be NQ

I recently found out that Quinn is a litigation specialist’ and HSF is apparently a ‘defendant firm’ which I didn’t know. Presumably somewhere like CMS is a real estate/media specialist. Can anyone tell me what firms are best known for corporate M&A work (cue Kirkland wannabes describing their ‘PE flowerhouse’)?

(1)(39)

Rolley the eyeses

These comments are so tedious. No “soon to be NQ” will be asking what firms are good at M&A work. Stop it.

Go back to your lectures.

(39)(2)

Soon to be NQ or incoming fresher?

If you don’t know what firms do M&A work when you’re nearly two years into your legal career, I wouldn’t be too optimistic about moving on qualification.

(42)(1)

M&A.

Slaughters. FF.

Latham. Kirkland. STB.

(5)(9)

VHhahd

Hiwt the fork didn’t u deduce tbje ?

(0)(0)

Ask Questions

I think this is a classic LC comment. Whether or not someone else has enjoyed their TC experience remotely will vary from person to person and firm to firm. Maybe you’re a natural self-starter so have taken this experience and run with it; maybe you only thrive in group environments and so have not enjoyed the distance and lack of contact with colleagues.

That being said, I start my TC before September and so far it sounds like everything will be a bit better by then. Obviously, no one can control the future with the pandemic and the effect it will have on the work environment but they have already put plans in place for us–flexible work pattern, better supervision per seat, standing check-ins to get ‘face time’ with partners and senior associates among others.

Instead of shouting into the void of Legal Cheek (as fun as that is), I would recommend speaking to your actual GR team. I voiced some of my concerns and was pleased to get a thorough response. Give that a go, you might be surprised at what they have to say.

(16)(5)

Best of luck

I started my TC in Sep 2020, and I can count on 1 hand how many times I’ve stepped foot in the office. From my own experience, I feel I would have learnt more/enjoyed my TC more being in the office, especially when it comes to sitting in technical departments and those with mega perks (gone are the days of champagne on completions…). On the whole though, I’ve learnt loads.

I just can’t stress the importance of ringing people up when you have questions, it is so easy to suffer in silence when you are working in a busy team with people you barely know but that is the worst thing you can do.

Despite this, I’m really looking forward to qualifying into a sector that appears to be embracing hybrid working. Best of luck with the TC!

(19)(3)

Black Forest Gateau

I started in September 2020 and it’s been just fine. IMO a lot of the bromides about office osmosis, etc. are just older colleagues being unconsciously fusty.
Everyone is at the end of the phone or email if I need help. I can work without anyone peering over my shoulder and without the din of an open plan office. I don’t want to go back.

(19)(16)

I was there once

Thx gomer

(3)(0)

🦓

if you work at a firm with an open plan office your opinion is not relevant sorry xo

(5)(8)

Trainee

As a soon to be NQ, I was glad of my 2 years paralegal experience before starting my TC. Once covid took hold, I found myself relying a lot of previous experience to get by. I sympathise for those who thrive in a group environment and need to be face to face to get value out of their day, or just have no idea how an office works, through no fault of their own.

Personally I go through cycles of loving and hating WFH. There are days when I just don’t want to get out of bed and knock out pleadings with Spotify on, or dictating letters from the sofa. Other times I feel adrift, lonely and hopeless when I am struggling with something and feel I have no one to ask.

That being said I trained at a rural firm and have now been able to get an NQ job split between WFH and office, so I can tap into a city salaries while living in very lovely rural countryside.

It is what you make of it but the reality is that people is juniors are going to struggle to make good personal connections, which may be really harmful both in the short and long term.

(21)(0)

Real Estate NQ (cilex conversion)

Realest comment on this entire thread my g

(2)(5)

Alex

It is utterly grim and I hate it.

(26)(2)

MC Trainee

I started in September 2020 and I have to say having been in the office previously on an 8 month stint was extremely useful. That said, it is entirely grim sharing a flat and working from the confines of your bedroom. I typically spend approximately 22 or so hours in my room to work / sleep and there’s not much time in between to get out even most days.

You miss out on client interaction, client calls and informal office learning just as everyone has said above. I have had to go in to the office a few times on my own and that was at least a change of scenery but equally as grim.

Having said all of that, you’ll be starting your TC much later into the pandemic when normal life is resuming. You’ll have natural breaks in your day / weeks and you’ll at least be able to meet people for drinks indoors and travel etc. I think the benefit going forward of working from home is that on days when you are not in the office, you can block out large periods to concentrate on drafting etc. As a trainee it’s hard to get longer periods of focused time to concentrate on something if you’re in the office because it’s naturally distracting in there and you’ll be interrupted constantly. In that sense you’ve the best of both worlds.

(18)(0)

Anonymous

I personally had a really hard time during my TC with the lockdown. I was made to work for 5 different departments, working crazy hours at a firm which normally has a good work-life balance. I was also forced to come into the office throughout the lockdowns, even though I didn’t feel comfortable with that. A lot of other stuff happened too which is too sensitive to reveal on LC. Good luck.

(8)(3)

Anon

Reveal please

(1)(2)

Tired of all the moaning

“I was also forced to come into the office throughout the lockdowns, even though I didn’t feel comfortable with that.” Well as someone likely to be in their early to mid-20s unless you have a serious medical condition, you are just being a snowflake. Millions went to work every day in lock down.

(15)(38)

SC

(6)(1)

Dick Brain

Utter fake news mate, go back to hiding under your bed you wet blanket

(3)(16)

SC

You seem nice.

Anon

Unless “SC” stands for Sullivan & Cromwell, your opinion just isn’t valid.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Did you go in?

(1)(0)

The OC Diaries (Bristol)

21 May 2021
I just don’t know what all the fuss is about with trainees working remotely. I spent a good deal of my training contract working remotely, usually in my training partner’s holiday home or Champneys in Tring (I can still get 25% for a large group), and I qualified with great prospects (i.e. on track for conversations about partnership by when I reach 6 PQE, hehehe) unlike my friend Rochelle and a couple of the other uni girls who were always in the office 5 days a week and are now being pushed into PSL roles (and I don’t mean Pumpkin Spiced Lattes) or in-house at start-ups under London Bridge.

(10)(8)

BANTONIO BANTERAS

Yawn, 3/10.

(10)(0)

Mklp

It’s been an oddly good way to sort out the wheat from the chaff. And also to flag up those that think things being a bit crap is a “mental health issue”.

(8)(15)

US 2PQE

Without wanting to sound like a prick here, the standard of trainees in the intake that has never been to the office is noticeably poorer than usual and many do not seem to ‘get it’. I feel very sorry for them as it would be almost impossible to develop at the usual rate while working from home – the experience is just not comparable.

Hopefully that intake is not too stunted once they are back in the office and can learn from their supervisors / seniors in person.

(24)(5)

lol okay

“2PQE”
yeah sure mate

(6)(9)

Offshore but not sure

I left last year to go offshore and there is no lockdown here, although the sun does shine rather too brightly sometimes.

Genuinely thought everyone returned to their offices in April? I’m speaking to recruiters and thinking of making a move back come winter time or early next year, but sounds like I’m not missing anything?

(2)(0)

Live free

You’re not missing anything at all. Keep earning those tax free stacks young king, and avoid the long hand of the taxman as much as you can.

(9)(0)

Q

Especially since this government wants to tax the South to fund stupid angry Brexit voting Northerners.

(3)(4)

Square bracket remover

Back to the board minutes for you, squire

(2)(0)

Former MC Trainee

Put it this way – I left during my second seat and am currently making more as a hairdresser right now. If anyone wants decent haircut message me.

(4)(6)

No thanks

Sorry, I only get my haircut from former US trainees.

(15)(2)

Trainee - Top 50 firm

Yes. Also, some trainees just want a reason to moan. It makes them feel important. I am not one of those trainees, because I was not raised to be a sensitive little brat. Working from home has its limitations, but trainees are still coddled overall, relatively speaking. Log in, do your job the best you can, and log out. It is better to be a trainee right now than to have been a newly qualified solicitor scrambling around for a position shortly after the pandemic hit.

(2)(13)

Can't tell if you're joking

Top 50 firm? There aren’t even 25 relevant firms in the UK. Sorry but your opinion doesn’t count.

(7)(13)

Realist

Have you lost your mind? If you are in a top 50 firm, you are in a good firm, but you wouldn’t know that would you, because you are still stressing about whether you are getting your harvard referencing correct.

(7)(4)

Real Realist

Sounds like someone touched a nerve. I don’t know what rankings you’re looking at but a lot of supposed top 50 firms aren’t even paying their NQs £70k. I would say that if NQs at other firms are making over double your salary at the same stage of your careers, you are in an objectively bad firm.

(5)(8)

Realest Realist

Yawn. Get a job, keep a job.

Top 50 firm trainee

It’s a bit meh on the whole if I’m honest. I’m definitely conscious of the learning by osmosis that I’m missing out on. I’m quite worried that I’m not learning/developing as quickly as I would in the office. Also, I do feel as though there’s an element of trainees getting less interesting/challenging work due to lawyers WFH falling into the trap of ‘sod it, it’ll be easier/quicker to get it done myself’ rather than involving a trainee. On the plus side, WFH is kinda brilliant…i baked a cake at lunch today just for the fun of it (the dream imo).

(9)(0)

JE

I’ve enjoyed it very much. I like being at home, I see more of my wife, no issues communicating. I don’t want my workplace to be my main source of social interaction and don’t need a ready-made dating pool. I think ‘learning by osmosis’ is largely bunk. I learn by doing work under supervision and have had decent hours and good quality work. I can focus better without social pressure and being watched and having to try to look good all the time in a firm full of unreasonably handsome musclemen with gelled hair.

Of course much of that won’t be the case for many other people and that’s OK – I’m just saying it’s horses for courses.

(5)(8)

US Trainee

I’ve absolutely loved it. No annoying colleagues to deal with, no inane workplace gossip, no wasting two hours a day sitting on trains, no having to constantly pretend to look busy even when there’s nothing on. I get on with the job, collect the money, and forget all about it at the weekends whenever I can. Plus I’m living at home so I’m no longer paying £800 a month in rent for a miserable flatshare in Whitechapel, all of which is going in my savings for a deposit. For Christ’s sake, I’m getting paid £50k two years out of university to sit at home and shuffle paper – what’s not to like?

(7)(7)

Anon

Not sure what department you’re in where you aren’t swamped. Maybe real estate/tax. Unless you’re in a fake US firm like Baker McKenzie. I doubt you’d prefer WFH if you were in PE and expected to be on-call 24/7.

(3)(0)

US Trainee

Nope, transactional department in a pretty well-known NYC-headquartered firm. Admittedly I’m between deals currently, and April was fairly non-stop, but that doesn’t change the fact that WFH has worked out damn well for me. I haven’t had a single actionable email since 5pm on Friday; back when we were in the office I’d have to ask around for work to look busy, or get staffed on some inane BD task, but right now I’ve been able to have a leisurely breakfast, a quick run, do some ironing and now scroll through Legal Cheek.

(2)(0)

Beepbeep

Why does it even matter though? Every profession is working from home at the moment – I don’t think lawyers will stay at home longer than anyone else will. Are you not going to do a TC now because it might not be as good? Just make the best of it.

(1)(0)

yes

my thoughts exactly sir

ultimately everyone and their dog wants a TC and they will accept and start one no matter what WFH policies are like

(1)(0)

In-House Trainee

I love it! But I’m training in-house so appreciate it may be different for those in private practice. I also have my own flat which makes it so much easier.

(1)(1)

Another apprentice

Also another apprentice here.

WFH has been a dream, I also have my own flat. I don’t have to waste 2 hours of my day to commute to the City from Kent, I get to wear comfortable (ie not a suit!) clothing and I don’t get pestered at all. If I want human contact, it’s just on the other end of an email/telephone call.

What’s not to like?

(1)(1)

Pascal

The responses on this website have gone really catty. Nastiness for the sake of nastiness, but with little wit or humour. I used to post a lot more often and this site was a lot better for it.

(4)(0)

Comments are closed.

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