Starting a New Training Contract Seat - Challenges and Opportunities

In this blog post, trainee James Leeman shares his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities of starting a new training contract seat

James Leeman

Trainee Solicitor

Burges Salmon LLP

It’s a feature of any trainee solicitor or legal apprentice’s training experience – changing seats and moving into a new department intermittently throughout your training. The process can feel somewhat like starting a new job each time - and with Burges Salmon adopting the six seat rotation to its training contract – this is a process that trainees undergo every four months.

The bottom line is that each seat rotation offers new opportunities and experiences which should be embraced. After recently changing seats for the third time – here’s some reflections on the process.


As you approach the four month mark in your seat, you may have only just finally learnt everyone’s name in your department, got confident with who does what and established your phone-a-friend contact for when you’ve managed to break the printer again. You will have undoubtedly built some great work relationships and it can feel daunting to start that process all over again.

Yet the benefit of the seat rotation process is that it allows you build those great work relationships right across the firm. With each rotation you will build up a strong work network across different departments, practice areas and sectors – which you can refer to throughout your Burges Salmon career.

You will also get an insight into how different people work and will be able to draw upon the myriad of different approaches to providing legal services to develop your own unique style.


Undoubtedly the biggest challenge of a seat rotation is trying to locate your new desk on day one. Grab yourself a floor plan and a compass and away you go.

Once again, I can only advise embracing the change – there’s no better way to get to know One Glass Wharf, all the different departments within it and the diverse range of characters that occupy them than moving desks every four months. I learnt this only too well when I recently started in the Pensions department, which is located within our new open-plan agile working space. I am now a dedicated convert to the open plan way of life and have got to meet lots of new friendly colleagues.


The best aspect of each seat rotation is the renewed opportunity to work within and learn about a completely different area of law. Despite drawing upon shared sector expertise, each department at Burges Salmon tackles a different area of law – whether it be property law, employment practice or disputes for example.

The benefit from your perspective is that as a trainee or apprentice you can learn about the key principles and practice within each of these different areas of law, gain an insight into how different teams operate and understand the range of clients that they work for.

No matter what area of law you end up specialising, this wider exposure will benefit you later on as you will be able to understand the interconnections between different legal problems and provide clients with legal advice grounded in wider-commercial understanding. And if you can’t get the answer to the problem yourself – you’ll know who to go to within the firm to pester to get it!


Throughout your career you should grab the opportunities to push yourself out of your comfort zone to learn new skills, ideas and practice in order to develop. The seat rotation aspect of the training contract is a great opportunity to do just that early on in your legal career.

So although you may be getting comfortable at your desk after four months, embrace the change and enjoy the opportunity to learn something new within each seat rotation.

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