‘I’m about to start my training contract – any advice?’

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By Legal Cheek on


Keen to make good impression

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one soon-to-be trainee seeks guidance on how to make the best impression.

“Hello Legal Cheek. I am about to start my training contract (I’d refer not to say at which firm). Can you ask your readers if they have any advice — both dos and don’ts — to ensure I get my legal career off to a good start. I am feeling quite apprehensive so any top tips will be appreciated.”

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



Proof read your work…

It sounds silly and ridiculous, but making errors such as ‘refer’ instead of ‘prefer’, or using written contractions will put you at the bottom of the hill you are seeking to climb before even considering the content of what you have produced.

If the work you produce is grammatically correct and formatted properly you will have the basics out of the way and you will (i) avoid annoying your supervisor; (ii) not look like an idiot; (iii) be able to focus on your learning, which is the law and client handling, not what you should have picked up as a 14-year-old in school.

Good luck!

Wise old man

Don’t sh*t with the bathroom door open
Don’t fall in love with your supervisor
Don’t microwave fish in the office
Don’t snore at your desk
Don’t walk around the office in your underwear
Don’t ask your colleagues to rate your nudes
Don’t get into a physical alteration with a partner at a work do
Don’t login to your OF account on your work laptop

A Supportive Commenter

Be nice to the support staff. They know everything and are, as the name suggests, very supportive if you need help with anything. You can ask them stupid questions you’re too afraid to ask your supervisor, who is no doubt too busy to deal with you anyway.


This is coming from the perspective of someone who has just finished training and has qualified at a US firm in London. Fairly sizeable intake, decent training (not an office with 2 trainees).

If you’ve got a TC at a decent firm it’s likely that you’re more than capable of handling common trainee tasks. Specifically at large international firms, trainees all do the same things and nothing is groundbreakingly difficult. My undergrad was conceptually more difficult than work. Obviously pay attention and try your best but this is the key point – stop caring so much. Seriously. There is more to life than work and far, far more to life than the law. In my first seat I would stress over every little mistake, work late into the evenings checking every last thing, and generally it was just boring and tiring. By the time I was in my third/fourth seat I was still trying but not stressing. If I did something wrong and annoyed some neurotic senior… so what? I still qualified there. At most places you have to be really quite bad to not be retained. So relax a bit.
Working hard is far more worth it on 6 figures.


Learn to manage upwards.

Kirkland NQ

If you’re at a US firm, invest in your relationship with your local Lambo dealer from day one. On your first day as an NQ, you want to be rolling in driving a brand new Huracan or your career is basically over – put in the ground work ASAP.

Learn from my mistake

Do not, under any circumstances, get into any form of casual or romantic relationship with someone at your firm – it is going to backfire on you and/or them.


Wear a smile every morning.


Thanks, Dave

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