A day in the life of a Commercial trainee

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My name is Sabine and I am a first-year trainee at Forbes Solicitors, currently in my second seat of my training contract in the Commercial Department.

Typically, my working day starts at about 8:45am, I usually check my emails first thing and write a to-do list to plan my day. The Commercial Department covers a wide range of work from commercial contracts to intellectual property matters. Daily tasks include reviewing and drafting contracts, preparing advice and reports for clients, and conducting legal research. Normally I would be attending client meetings in person with my supervisor, however due to COVID-19 and the restrictions on social contact, these meetings are being conducted by telephone for the time being.

The Commercial Department's client base consists of small and medium sized businesses, many of which have been adversely affected by COVID-19. Since the outbreak began, I have written several articles for the Forbes website with the aim of providing information to assist our clients in these challenging times. We have received several pieces of work as a result of these articles from clients requiring specific advice about the impacts of COVID-19, which I have also been involved in.

The work I have done so far has been varied and challenging, despite the difficult circumstances COVID-19 has presented us with. I am given ownership of tasks that I am set by my supervisor which means I am making a direct contribution to the team. Life as a trainee is a case of learning on-the-job, now more than ever due to the rapidly changing commercial landscape due to COVID-19, which means I am developing quickly.

In the Commercial Department, we have smoothly transitioned to working from home. As a team, we have daily conference calls using Microsoft Teams, which we are also utilising to plan and organise work. In addition, my supervisor is always on hand should I have any questions and I am lucky to be supported by a second-year trainee who is due to qualify into Commercial.

Forbes allows people to be themselves which means teams and individuals across the firm vary in how they work. This means you learn to work in different ways, think creatively and can develop your own style. However, there are similarities I've experience in all of the Forbes offices I have worked in; there is a relaxed atmosphere and a strong emphasis on creating a collaborative culture. This means that colleagues of all levels are approachable, and everyone is supportive of each other.

Forbes is a very friendly firm and there are always opportunities to socialise with your colleagues. My first seat was Employment where I took part in a 'team day' which involved go-karting (where I proudly placed second!) followed by a night out. In the Commercial Department, when in the office we normally join up with the Corporate Department for Friday drinks. However, we are not letting COVID-19 stop our fun as we are planning 'virtual Friday drinks' with the addition of interactive games. We also keep in touch via a Whatsapp group, with one team member's 'isolation beard' updates and lunchtime quizzes keeping us entertained.

I usually log-off around 5:30pm, unless a matter is urgent and requires me to work later, which only happens occasionally. Trainees are encouraged to manage their own workload and there is an understanding of the importance of work-life balance which is great.