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From trainee to NQ – life after qualification

Newly qualified solicitor, Emily Taylor, shares her journey and what it was like the moment she realised her training was about to come to an end.

As I entered the final three months of my training contract, I realised that I had not stopped in the past eight years to consider what life would be like after I had completed my training contract.

As I have expressed to many of my colleagues, the only way I can really explain how it feels is like when you pass your driving test and get into the car on your own for the first time, and you think ‘can I actually drive now?!’

My favourite aspect of my job is that it naturally allows me to help my clients when they most need me. Being able to build a rapport with my clients, getting to know them and being able to help them following a time that has probably been very difficult for them, is the most important part of the job to me.

The jump from trainee solicitor to a newly qualified solicitor is greater than I thought it would be, but so far has been incredibly enjoyable. One of the biggest challenges has been adapting to the extra responsibility. Having said this, Minster Law has ensured that the extra responsibility I now have has been tied with an impressively strong support network to assist me on my journey. I know that now is the time to continue to learn, ask and grow – this does not stop once you qualify.

Having now had time to reflect on my wonderful two years as a trainee, I can now appreciate that while there will always be something to learn, the training contract gives you the confidence to propel yourself into the NQ role. The training contract offers time to develop not only technical skills but the skills required to be a well-rounded, balanced solicitor.

Solicitors are not uniform, and while we might all generally have the same qualifications, we all have different skillsets and different strengths. The training contract helped me realise what mine are and how best to put those skills to good use. The biggest skill to utilise is to listen. The best way to learn and adapt to life is to listen to advice from colleagues and to what your clients are needing from you. Having a supportive network of colleagues who have all been where you are is a wonderful and comforting resource to rely on.

Making full use of all the meetings, training and 1-to-1s has been invaluable in my learning and helped me to be more independent in my decision making. The key to making the most of the first few months in the new role is to be proactive and use your initiative, and to remember that you are building on what you have learned in the past two years. Do not be afraid of not knowing the answer, you have to be realistic that there will be times you need help throughout your career journey. My supervisor, Simon Marshall, always says to me ‘it is only obvious once you know the answer’ and just hearing that has helped me settle into my role a lot faster and embrace the new opportunities to learn.

The excellent supervision and training provided throughout the training contract is extended to help guide you through adapting to life as a newly qualified solicitor. This was especially prevalent as we transitioned to working from home during the lockdowns. While this brought with it unanticipated challenges, as we all adapted to working from home, the level of support only heightened to ensure that I was guided through my training contract and into my new role, with regular catch-up meetings and points of contact for whenever I needed help. The creation of the wellbeing team also ensured that we were looked after as we adjusted to working from home.

The final, and arguably the most important, thing I have learned from my training contract and transitioning into a newly qualified role is that the best person to believe in is yourself.

I look forward to strengthening and progressing my career as a newly qualified solicitor at Minster Law.