It was 8.00am on a chilly December morning in 2013. I was standing on a small, frosted lawn with damp soaking through my shoes. I was staring at a decomposing fox. This is not, I thought, precisely what I had expected from my traineeship.
Now, nearing the end of my traineeship (I qualify in October 2015), I know that in private client work one has to expect the unexpected. I haven't had any more dead foxes, but I have had plenty of other surprises. And that is the beauty of a traineeship with Turcan Connell. It is never mundane. Never run of the mill. Never boring.
There are things that you do a lot of, of course; like drafting Wills in a Tax & Succession seat, or Discharges and Dispositions in Land & Property. But each apparently similar document has a different story. It relates to an individual who has their own particular reasons and circumstances behind what they are doing. That is what attracted me to private client work in the first instance, the uniqueness of the individuals who walk through the office doors, or telephone or email you. The variety of the work, the clients, the trust placed in me and (perhaps most importantly) the people I work with, have made my traineeship a truly great experience.
It hasn't all been plain sailing. I was turned down for a summer placement twice (without an interview) and for a traineeship (again without interview) in three successive years. It really was a case of fourth time lucky! And there are the inevitable mistakes; everyone makes them. But for me the perseverance was definitely worthwhile. Turcan Connell was where I wanted to be, and the firm certainly lived up to my expectations.
I accepted the position that I will take up in October (NQ Tax & Succession Solicitor working for partners Robin Fulton, Donald Simpson and Ian Clark) with two Tax & Succession seats already under my belt. My fourth seat, also Tax & Succession, commenced shortly after. Each of these seats have been very different, exposing me to a broad range of problems, technical issues and, of course, clients. I also gained very valuable experience in the Land & Property department, an experience which I had greatly enjoyed and from which I learned skills which are immeasurably useful now. The breadth of training available at Turcan Connell, across the different departments (whether legal or not) and within each specific team allows a trainee to gain experience and knowledge in a mutually supportive environment, whichever area of private client law is"your thing". And the transferability of the skills picked up should really not be underestimated.
The work/life balance is good too. Whether it's a firm trip to see Spamalot the musical, a night out bowling, the Summer BBQ incorporating a very competitive egg and spoon race or your other interests outside the office, you will have some free time. You hear so many horror stories of trainees who never get home before 3.00am, if they get home at all, however, that is not Turcan Connell. Of course there are nights when you have to pull a late one, or mornings when you have to drag yourself out of bed, and there always will be. You would certainly be deluding yourself if you imagined you would be at your desk from 9.00am-5.00pm and not a moment longer. But it is always manageable. And people look out for you too; you will never fly under the radar. Never be stuck with a question. Never be lost.
You've probably gathered that I really enjoy working at Turcan Connell. It's true; I do. I know that I haven't told you much about exactly what the work involves but then, confidentiality and all that… Suffice it to say that a traineeship with Turcan Connell will mean that you are given a broad, interesting, varied training with a lot of responsibility. You will learn skills essential for work in the private client area, and which are transferable to other sectors if you so wish. You will be given opportunities to do seats in a wide variety of legal disciplines, and some non-legal (investment, financial planning and tax) if you are interested. You will work with people who are people, who can be your friends as well as your colleagues and teachers. And most importantly, you will finish your traineeship with a toolbox fully equipped to allow you to enter a post-qualification job with confidence and enthusiasm.