What seat are you currently in?
Josh: I’m currently in our Real Estate department.
Lucy: I’m in the Corporate team.
How are trainee seats allocated?
Josh: About one month before the trainees change department, we each get the chance to submit our ‘top 3’ preferences. Seats are then allocated by the needs of the department and each trainee’s preference to try and allow each trainee to move to the department that they want.
What time do you start your working day?
Josh: Typically, my usual working day starts at about 8:00-8:30am depending on how much work I have for a particular day/week and what deadlines need to be met.
Lucy: My train gets me into the office at about 8:45am, unless I’m working on a matter that requires me to be in earlier.
Is there anything you do routinely every day?
Josh: Apart from regular trips to the kitchen to get my coffee fix, routine tasks can include reviewing Land Registry Portal applications, file administration, time recording and updating my training record.
Lucy: I’m more of a peppermint tea drinker, but I also try to make sure I do my time recording and update my training record daily. There’s a lot of checking and responding to emails throughout the day too!
How do you spend your average day?
Lucy: For the first few weeks, an average day for trainees at S&B involved getting to grips with the various IT systems, training sessions, department introductions and meeting the rest of the firm. Now that we’ve settled in within our departments, daily tasks can include attending meetings, telephone calls (internal and client-facing), responding to client e-mails, drafting and reviewing documents, undertaking legal research and presenting it to a partner/associate and general matter admin.
What usually happens at lunch?
Josh: S&B is located in the centre of Guildford, which means that there are lots of places to go for food, walks and shopping.
Lucy: We get a generous 1 ¼ hour for lunch and so some people exercise during that time – a habit I want to get in to…
Do you have a lot of contact with partners and clients?
Josh: One of the benefits of being a trainee at S&B is that you share an office with your supervising partner and may do work for them or other partners in the department. There’s also an ‘open door’ policy around the firm which makes contact between trainees and partners a lot easier!
Lucy: I was in contact with clients from the outset, which was quite daunting at first, but trainees at S&B are entrusted with quite a lot of responsibility from the get go which is great experience.
Do you enjoy the client-facing aspect of your job?
Josh: Definitely! Having been a Paralegal before starting my training contract I had some client-facing experience, however as a trainee, I think there is a greater emphasis on letting trainees communicate with clients directly.
Do you work alongside other trainees?
Josh: As a trainee, some of the work that you do may cross over into another department, which means that you may get the chance to work with other trainees (and associates) across various areas of law. S&B also organise regular charity events which gives trainees the chance to work alongside each other.
Lucy: S&B also has a ‘buddy’ system. After TC offers have been accepted, future trainees are paired up with a current trainee at the firm. The trainees arrange regular catch-ups, which gives the future trainee the chance to keep in the loop with what the firm is doing, ask any questions before joining, and get a free lunch at the same time!
How is your progress as a trainee monitored?
Josh: S&B encourage trainees to attend as many training sessions as we can, which are held during work hours and/or at lunchtimes (with free lunch provided!). This can be in the form of department meetings/know-how sessions. We also complete week-by-week training records to record the work we’ve done and what we’ve learnt from doing it.
Lucy: I have a meeting scheduled in with my supervisor every two weeks to discuss what work I’ve been given and how I’m finding it. It also allows them to check that I’m being exposed to a wide variety of work. More formally, trainees have mid-seat and end-of-seat reviews with their supervising partner to discuss progress and suggest areas of improvement.
What is the culture like at S&B?
Josh: Everyone at the firm is really supportive of each other and are keen to get involved and help with anything – whether its work-related or charity/social-related. There’s always a positive atmosphere in the office.
Lucy: As cliché as it sounds, everyone at S&B is really friendly. Although the atmosphere around the office is hard-working, there’s a lot of conversation and laughter too. There’s also a big emphasis on CSR and the team puts on events throughout the year.
What time do you usually leave the office?
Josh: I usually leave the office at any time between 5:30pm-7:00pm depending on workload. S&B are generally quite relaxed about when you leave the office as long as you manage to complete your work beforehand.
Lucy: Obviously if a matter requires us to work later, we do! However, if we’ve finished our workload for the day, we’re encouraged to leave around 5:30pm - there’s an understanding about the importance of a work-life balance which I really like.
Are trainees encouraged to socialise with the firm?
Josh: There are a lot of social events for trainees to get involved with throughout the year: department socials and Christmas parties, an annual quiz night and a firm-wide summer party!
Lucy: The firm has netball, cricket and football teams and a Choir to get involved with and the office has a number of pubs in view, which is nice for post-work drinks!
What made you choose to train at S&B?
Josh: I think for me, the culture/atmosphere at S&B compared to other firms really showed during my time on the vacation scheme. I felt involved and part of the team from day one. Everyone at the firm is really friendly and welcoming, (in addition to the fact that everyone seems to have a mutual love for snacks! If you love sweets, chocolate and cakes, you’ll love the S&B kitchens).
Lucy: I agree. To be able to work for one of the UK’s most successful independent law firms, which also has a really friendly and sociable culture, was a no brainer!