Simranjeet Kaur Mann
I am currently a first seat trainee solicitor at this firm. Gaining a training contract here was not something that happened overnight, and I had to face several job rejections and obstacles in order to become a trainee solicitor. To gain a training contract here, I had to firstly submit an application, then complete an online test, then attend an assessment centre. I was then selected for a week-long vacation scheme, during which I had to complete tasks within my assigned team, and I had a final interview with a partner in the firm. I chose Womble Bond Dickinson, as it is a firm that values you as an individual. It is a firm that achieves a balance between forwarding your professional development and appreciating your life outside of work.
My role involves rotating in the different departments the firm practises every 6 months. I am currently in the Construction and Engineering Team, which has a mix of disputes and transactional law. This means my role can range between drafting / reviewing building agreements or collateral warranties, to drafting correspondence or witness statements for our client that is currently in a dispute with another party. Other responsibilities also involve attending client meetings to take a note of the call, and ensuring the administrative tasks for a matter are completed e.g. checking the fee estimates, setting up a new client matter and organising meetings between parties. I will be going into my next 'seat', or department very soon. After I've completed 4 seats, and subject to me completing these seats in a compliant manner, I will become a qualified solicitor. Alongside my work for the team, I am also expected to be involved in the wider business. This involves helping the firm with organising their sports or social events, or taking part in pro bono activities and giving back to the community.
A key highlight of my time at the firm so far was attending a mediation in London. This is an opportunity that is quite rare to come by, so I was lucky that it arose during my first seat. Here I was able to witness the partner in my team display advocacy skills, comment on the strengths and weaknesses of our case and the other side's case, and also observe how negotiation skills were so important in practice. It was a very insightful experience, where I learnt a lot about different strategies and lawyers deploy to ensure the best possible result for their client.
What I enjoy the most about my job so far is the adaptability you enhance in the role. In one moment I could be working on a matter where the parties are amicable and have a collective objective in signing an agreement. Then, the next matter I'm working on could be a dispute where the parties do not agree with each other at all, and this then changes the tone by which we as lawyers communicate with the other side. I enjoy that every situation is different, where you have to adopt different strategies or communication styles in order to progress the matter. It keeps me on my toes!
One challenge I faced in this role was working from home; this surprised me as I thought I was quite used to Teams meetings and communicating virtually. However in the first couple weeks, I struggled to reach out to colleagues as I scared I would be disturbing them. In order to overcome this challenge, I spoke to my supervisor. She reassured me that it is worth picking up the phone and calling someone if you want to speak to them. The more I do it, the more comfortable I would feel. I adopted this method and realised everyone is open to having a chat; if they were busy, they would propose another time to have a chat. I now feel a lot more comfortable with working from home and understanding that I can always phone a colleague if I need to speak to them.
One thing I really admire about my firm is the emphasis on having a life alongside your work. There have been times where my colleagues have suggested I take a break, and that I should log off at a suitable time if I have no urgent matters to attend to. Of course there will be days where you are busier than others. However, this is a firm that truly appreciates a work life balance, which is exactly what I was looking for from my career.