What seat are you currently in?
Jessica: I’m currently in the intellectual property team.
Baber: I’m currently sat in Corporate.
How are trainee seats allocated?
Jessica: About mid-way through a seat, we have a meeting with the trainee support team. They usually ask for your top three preferences and you have a chat about why you’re interested in those seats, what you enjoy about your current seat, which seat(s) you’re leaning towards for qualification, etc.
Baber: Halfway through our seats, each trainee has a meeting with the Training Principal and the Head of Learning and Development, wherein each trainee submits their top 3 preferences. Confirmation of next seat is then made a few weeks before the current seat ends.
What time do you start your working day?
Jessica: I’m an early bird and tend to get into the office around 8am. I’ll go to the Town Hall, grab a coffee, check my emails and then I’ll have my breakfast. I head up to my desk around 8.30am. When I’m working from home, I’ll usually log in around 8.30am.
Baber: I enjoy an early and strong start to the day, so I’m usually logged on around 08.00-08.30.
Is there anything you do routinely every day?
Jessica: Every morning I check my emails and then have a quick scroll through LinkedIn. It’s a great way to get legal updates and improve your network. I personally believe business development and networking is a great thing to start as a trainee.
Baber: To start my day, I always have a morning coffee, before checking my email inbox and creating a to-do list.
How do you spend your average day?
Jessica: Every day is different, so it’s hard to generalise! I will usually have some drafting to do (whether that be internal emails, client emails, letters, agreements etc.).
Baber: Every day is varied, depending on the type of deal I’m working on and the stage at which the deal is on. That being said, an average day may include attending meetings, both internally and externally, drafting and reviewing certain ancillary documents, liaising with clients and the other side solicitors, proofreading main documentation, and carrying out legal research.
What usually happens at lunch?
Jessica: When I’m in the office, I tend to pop into Guildford to run errands and then eat my lunch in the Town Hall with my department or with the other trainees. If I’m at home, I’ll go for a dog walk.
Baber: Most of the times I’m in the town hall, having my lunch (from a nearby shop or home-made – that is if I had a productive morning!) and catching up with trainees or associates from other departments. When the weather is warm, I take the opportunity to sit outside in the Romanesque pillared garden at the back of our office, making me wonder whether I’m actually in Guildford or in Rome!
Do you have a lot of contact with partners and clients?
Jessica: Yes! I regularly work directly with partners, and I’d say I speak to a client at least once a day. I also have a lot of contact with partners in different practice groups through my involvement in S&B’s various sector groups.
Baber: S&B takes great pride in granting trainees a great level of exposure to clients and working on deals directly under a partner. In my previous seat (Finance, Insolvency and Restructuring), I had the opportunity to work directly under a partner on several deals and was given an ample amount of responsibility including communicating with the client on regular basis, both via emails and phone calls.
Do you enjoy the client-facing aspect of your job?
Jessica: Definitely. My exposure to clients and responsibility for client correspondence was built up gradually over time, so it was never overwhelming. The opportunity to communicate directly with clients also makes me feel as though the supervisors on the matter trust me and have confidence in my ability.
Baber: Absolutely! Having the opportunity to regularly communicate with clients allows me to build a good relationship with them, as well as honing my communication skills, and managing client expectations.
Do you work alongside other trainees?
Jessica: Sometimes, but not always. In some practice groups, you will be the only trainee, so there isn’t a lot of cross over with other trainees unless you are enlisting help from another practice group. Being involved in the sector groups can increase how much you work with other trainees, as the sector groups cover a range of practice areas.
Baber: We have a chance to work with other trainees whenever a deal/transaction demands cross-departmental input. For instance, on banking and finance deals, I often got to work with the trainee in the commercial real estate department, as the deal involved our client raising external finance and providing security over their assets. Other than cross-departmental deals, there are regular trainee socials and we often catch-up during lunch.
How is your progress as a trainee monitored?
Jessica: There are formal mid-seat and end-of-seat reviews, but feedback is generally given throughout your seat.
Baber: I have regular informal catchups with my supervisor, during which we discuss the work I’ve recently been working on, any questions I have, and to ensure that I am receiving a variety of work so that I am exposed to all facets of the work we carry out. Trainees also have a formal ‘mid-seat’ and ‘end of seat’ reviews, where we discuss our performance and areas of development.
What is the culture like at Stevens & Bolton?
Jessica: It’s very welcoming and supportive. The phrase “work hard, play hard” comes to mind, as everyone is very hard working, but there are also always social events on.
Baber: Everyone is genuinely nice, friendly, and welcoming, which makes the transition for a new trainee joining the firm a lot easier. There is certainly an emphasis on ensuring a positive and inclusive atmosphere, which is driven by the firm’s values of openness, fairness, curiosity, and inclusivity. Whilst you’re expected to work hard, the firm understands that it’s also important to enjoy your evenings.
What time do you usually leave the office?
Jessica: I usually leave around 5.30pm. Of course, there are days when I have to work later but they are not the norm.
Baber: On a normal day, I usually finish around 6.00-6.30 but occasionally, I may finish later if we are heading towards completion.
Are trainees encouraged to socialise with the firm?
Jessica: Yes! Everyone at the firm is encouraged to get involved with events, be that socials, networking events, sporting events or choir. It’s also a great way to meet people from different practice groups and raise your profile within the firm.
Baber: There is huge emphasis on trainees to get involved in many networking, charity, and social events, and trainees are encouraged to volunteer and help out. The firmwide social committee carry out a tremendous in organising multiple firmwide events throughout the year!
What made you choose to train at Stevens & Bolton?
Jessica: I wanted to train at a firm with a great culture, high quality work and somewhere with excellent training - S&B covers all of those!
Baber: I wanted to train at a firm that not only attracts high quality work and clients but also had a smaller trainee intake and was known to be a firm that is friendly and welcoming. S&B ticked all those boxes! 12 years of consecutive growth is a testament to the fact that S&B are growing and attracting top-notch clients, whilst providing a platform for individuals to develop and thrive in their professional careers by entrusting a lot of responsibility on them at an early stage in their career.