This post will serve as both my first post on the Stowe Family Law trainee blog, as well as a marker that I am around half way through my training contract. Throughout my time at law school, or even since leaving law school and spending time with non-lawyer friends, stereotypes often emerge surrounding the work that I do.
As such, I intend to use this blog post to dispel three myths that those not-in-the-know believe to be true.
Myth 1: Trainee solicitors are photocopying experts
Throughout law school, I heard horror stories of trainees spending hundreds of hours in copy rooms. I have often heard of training contracts at some firms being nothing more than lessons on the functionality of those large, copy-scan-printers. After a year of working in the London office, I can attest to being able to do some wizardry with a photocopier. Double siding. Focussing images. Enlarging. Reducing. Paginating in Roman numerals (a personal favourite). However I also spend a great deal of time wading through distinct tasks in a Partner’s case-load, waist deep in complicated law; learning.
Stowe encourages self-starters, who have a desire to practice and learn the law. I have been fortunate enough to attend conferences with very experienced barristers every week, and learnt areas of family law that are not run of the mill. I have been given work by very experienced solicitors on areas of law that they were unfamiliar with, and while under their diligent watch, made applications that I would not have made in larger city law firms. In a nutshell, my workload is both wide-ranging and complex. However, I can still photocopy with the best of them.
Myth 2: It’s all about the money
One thing that I have particularly benefitted from at Stowe, which is very different from other practices in London, is that I am encouraged to learn. If a solicitor in the London office is doing something that they haven’t done before – something that they find difficult or unusual – I am often asked if I would like to help or keep an eye on what they are doing. In this regard, a large part of my day is spent doing non-chargeable work. Learning.
I am not, as many of my non-lawyer friends would have me believe, bleeding clients dry. That is not how the legal profession works. It is certainly not how Stowe Family Law works.
As a firm which focuses on the trainee experience and encourages young lawyers to become very good at their job, it’s not all about the money. Stowe understands that sometimes it’s a nurturing hand that makes a trainee become a great lawyer in the future. It’s about reaping what they sow.
Myth 3: Lawyers are soulless
This is one of my favourite myths. Most people think that when we clock off, leave the office and head home, we switch off. That may be the case in some areas of law, however it certainly isn’t the case within family practice. Since starting as a paralegal at Stowe back in May 2014, I spend most of my waking hours thinking about other peoples’ issues. How a situation can be ameliorated for X. How we can ensure that Y has a good family Christmas. Family lawyers do not switch off.
For more information on trainee contracts see this post: Time to Review Stowe Family Law training contracts.
I hope that this post has proven useful in some small way. Be it for a law student thinking of a career within family law or for one of our clients to glean a small insight into what the firm’s trainees actually get up to. I hope to help lift the veil a little more in future blog posts.