I recently raided the discussion board for 41 Bugnuts Things Your Parents Do Now. It had zero to do with law except that lawyers came up with most of it, and I was accused of angling for a job at Buzzfeed. This listicle, however, is very relevant to the profession.
A reader on the board asked, "I start a TC at a large international firm in a couple of weeks. I'm beginning to feel the 'fear of the unknown' nerves a little bit. What advice would you give to a trainee for their first few weeks? What advice do you wish you had been given at the start of your TC?"
Here are the wisest responses. They will be split into two or three parts because it takes me a while to come up with stupid cartoons.
1. Lube your anus.
If you're working in London.
2. Always carry a notebook and pen.
Don't rely on your memory. Write down all the instructions you are given when you are given them. Make sure you write them legibly. Once you have done that, ensure they're intelligible by repeating them back to yourself - not as you have written them, but as you understand them.
3. Bring in sausage & brown sauce crusty baps every Friday.
It excuses an infinite number of cross-referencing errors and misplaced apostrophes. Scale up accordingly.
4. Ask lots of questions if you are not sure.
There is no such thing as a stupid question (unless you are repeating one you just asked).
5. If you screw up tell someone straight away.
It's fine (up to a point) to get stuff wrong occassionally, but a partner will never employ someone they can't trust to come clean. Clients usually forgive a mistake but you could ruin the whole relationship if you hide something from them.
6. Just because you're going to be a solicitor you're not above the secretaries.
Or the guys in photocopying or the accounts department. Be nice and polite to them and they will help you when you have a dumb question about the firm's procedures or need something copied in a hurry. Upset them by lording it over them and you'll find life can be very difficult.
7. In fact, befriending key secretaries is absolutely vital.
Bring them occasional biscuits and cake. They love that.
8. Don't get immediately competitive with the other trainees by boasting about how well you're doing and what incredible feedback you're getting.
When it comes down to 4th seat time you'll probably be eyeing up your fellow intake as rivals, but for God's sake don't start doing that from day one, because:
(a) They'll hate you;
(b) You'll stop getting invited to trainee drinks and will have to rely on the most socially awkward associate for a social life;
(c) You're going to lose a valuable support network and the only people who actually know what you're going through (and also the only other people routinely sharing the office with you at midnight).
9. Find out at an early stage where they keep the tartan paint.