Trainees are ready for the challenges ahead after virtual induction - Tanya Gordon
In August, Clyde & Co welcomed more than 40 trainee lawyers to the firm, with four joining our Scottish firm in Edinburgh.
Where ordinarily their induction would take place face to face over coffee, sandwiches and interactive breakout sessions, this year's induction consisted of a wall of webcam feeds on our laptop screens. The smiling faces were slightly pixelated, but very much engaged in the virtual induction and ready for the challenge of what lies ahead on their traineeships.
The goal of Clyde & Co's training programme is to foster a new generation of knowledgeable and confident qualified lawyers who will stay with our firm at the end of their contract and choose to start the next stage of their career with us.
Trainees are the future of the firm, so we invest the time and resource into their training, with a high retention rate ensuring that many former trainees are now partners in the firm. We are particularly lucky at Clyde & Co because our programme provides two years of training in our specific civil litigation disciplines and specialisations: personal injury, medical negligence, employment, commercial litigation, and legacy work, where graduates from programmes in other law firms may only focus on those specialisms for a handful of months.
Trainees are an essential part of the team, and they undertake key legal work, getting involved in statements, consultations, pleadings and attending court from early in their traineeships.
But of course, this year we see a completely different approach to both recruitment and training itself due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We're proud that all our 2020 trainee contracts were honoured, and all trainees have been brought in and inducted as planned, and now we step into the unknown, with virtual courts and working from home.
Lockdown has been challenging for both supervision and for communication, but our lawyers remember what it's like to be a trainee. We have all been there asking our ‘daft’ questions.
We must do our best to ensure that even in the virtual space, we allow for the value of collaboration in problem solving and problem sharing alike. Our trainees can't benefit from eavesdropping on conversations going on around them in the office, so we must encourage that listening opportunity through scheduled daily team calls and regular one-to-ones, and ensuring our lawyers are even more accessible to trainees to ask those so-called ‘daft’ questions.
Each trainee is also assigned a mentor, a qualified solicitor from another team, as a sounding board. In our post-COVID-19 world, communication is even more key than before. We have learned a lot from the ‘new normal’, and even in future when we can meet again in person Clyde & Co is sure to have a richer, more cohesive training programme long-term because of what happened in 2020.
Vikki Melville, Managing Partner for Clyde & Co in Scotland, recognises the changed circumstances. She said: “I was so pleased to meet our Scotland trainees at their video call induction. It's great to see our training teams and lawyers working hard to find a way of supporting our new intakes in these challenging times.”
Tanya Gordon is a Partner with Clyde & Co
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