Training as a solicitor during a pandemic

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Whether you’ve dreamt of being a solicitor from the moment you could talk, or you had a life-changing realisation that you wanted to change career later in life, training to be solicitor is hard work at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic.

When we were first ordered to ‘stay at home’ one year ago, our Trainee Solicitors were amongst the rest of us trying to establish a working from home routine and getting to grips with providing legal advice remotely. One year on, we have four new Trainee Solicitors and have opened placements for our 2021 contracts. So, how has Covid-19 affected their training contracts?

We speak to three of our Trainee Solicitors: Mollie Cameron, a second-year trainee, Joe Hedges, who joined us as a trainee in January 2021, and Hattie Hill, who became a Trainee Solicitor with us this year after working as an Administration Assistant in our Residential Conveyancing team.

How have you had to adapt your way of working whilst working from home?

Mollie: “Barcan+Kirby has been fantastic at facilitating the move to home working and I have been supplied with office equipment to set up my home office. It was challenging moving seats and joining a new team whilst working at home but I am in regular contact with my supervisor and have got to know the team via Zoom. I recently joined the family team which is a completely unknown area of law to me. I was worried that I wouldn’t pick things up whilst working from home and progress as quickly as I did in other seats, however, a month in, I do not think this is the case.

I have attended a number of hearings virtually which felt odd at first as everyone, including the judge, got used to the technology but now it seems normal. One memorable moment of my training contract is attending a trial in Bristol Civil Court. The witnesses couldn’t attend due to social distancing and I had to go between the judge’s laptop and counsel’s to make sure there wasn’t feedback and the necessary people weren’t muted.”

What’s it like joining a firm as a new Trainee Solicitor during a pandemic?

Joe: “It’s been a strange experience but I wouldn’t say that I’ve completely missed out because I’ve still had all the meetings, just on Zoom. It seems that everyone has adapted really well to this way of working.

The messaging about how the firm is keeping everyone safe and the plan for when people do return to our offices have been really good and clear. Everyone knows what’s happening and what we can and can’t do. We’ve been kept well informed on everything throughout.

The one thing I have missed out on is meeting everyone in person, especially the other trainees. But it will happen in the future and we will get there.”

How have your colleagues supported you in your training contract whilst working remotely?

Hattie: “Working remotely during my training contract now feels like the norm! My training contract started on 4th January and lockdown 3.0 was announced on 5th January, so I quickly had to adapt to a training contract from home. The team are great; we ensure there is always someone in the office and if any documents are required, we can scan and send them to colleagues at home.

The pandemic has accelerated how much of the conveyancing process is now online; previously we did most things via post, and it is much more efficient now. Everyone communicates really well as a team to ensure we are all on the same page with files. When we had to change to a hybrid of home working and office working, our Team Leader ensured we were in the office on the same days for the most beneficial supervision setup. Even when I’m working from home, everyone is super helpful to answer any questions and I don’t feel as though there is any less support when not in the office.”

What are you looking forward to when we go back into the office?

Hattie: “I currently work in the office three days a week and from home two days a week, and I find it to be the perfect balance. I love being able to see the team and colleagues on the days I am in the office and really enjoy my commute which is a 40-minute walk each way along the river. The whole team work from the office on a Friday, which gives everyone that Friday feeling.”

Joe: “I am looking forward to meeting all of my colleagues who, until now, I have only met on Zoom. It will be great to learn how other departments work and how our work will overlap. It will also be great to attend some face-to-face networking events, meeting businesses around the city.”

Mollie: “I am really looking forward to meeting the people I have been working with for the past few weeks.”

Want to train as a solicitor? Find out more about our training contracts

If you’re interested in training as a solicitor with us, you can find out more here. Training contracts commence in September 2021, and applications close on 30th April 2021.

If you have any questions regarding our training contracts, feel free to email our recruitment team.


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