At Bristows seats are either 3 or 6 months long which means you get to see a great cross section of the firm over the two years of your training contract. This is invaluable when deciding what area you want to qualify into as well as for getting a feel for how each department operates. Moving seats can be somewhat daunting, especially the first time; it is almost like starting all over again! Here are a couple of tips on how to make the process as smooth and easy as possible:
It is very unlikely that every matter you have been helping out on will finish at the same time as you leaving the seat. It is important to have a meeting with whoever was last in your new seat before you move. You need to find out what work they were doing and what you’ll be expected to do. It is also worth asking if there is any general reading you can do as an introduction to the area. It might also be an idea to go over any notes you may have from law school you may have on that department; the quicker you are up to speed on the work the quicker you can start contributing.
You will also need to arrange a meeting with the trainee moving into your current seat so you can fill them in on what you’ve been doing and what they will need to carry on. This will make the trainee changeover as easy and undisruptive as possible for both you and the fee earners you’ve been working with.
2. Speak to your new secretary
Every department does things differently so it will help to speak with your secretary and discover your new seat’s habits. This includes different ways of filing and working; you’ll be saving yourself time in the long run if you get to grips with the department’s style early on. The secretaries are a great source of help throughout your entire seat and there to answer any questions that may arise.
3. Get to know the department
It is a good idea to get a tour of the department on the first day to meet the whole team early on. The best way to make the most of your seat and get your name known in the firm is to work with as many people as possible and help out on as many different matters where you can. You will get the best flavour of how the department operates and the different sort of work each person does. Also everyone is nice and friendly and always up for a chat!
4. Stay on top of your admin.
When you change seats a key piece of work you have to do is your development review. This is an evaluation of your time in your last seat and has to be done within a required framework. It involves having a meeting with the supervisor from your current and new seat so requires some co-ordination. It will help focus your mind about what you want to achieve in your next seat and how you are looking to improve; useful food for thought when moving to a new department. On a more practical note, the general office do a great job of moving your stuff to your new department and providing creates to help the process, but make sure you have collected everything in one place before you move and try not to forget anything!