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Legal insights & industry updates

| 2 minutes read

The "Banking and Finance" guide to success as a corporate trainee

Nearly six months in to my traineeship at Harper Macleod, it's important to reflect on the lessons learnt. This is my “Banking and Finance” guide for other prospective trainees: 

Be yourself - It is essential to be you, by applying your own perspective throughout your traineeship. Having a pragmatic approach to things you can provide innovative and dynamic ways to find solutions to problems. 

Attention to detail – take your time, check and double-check the drafting.  There is an instinct to try and turn things around too quickly; there will be time pressures, however, it is a false economy to produce documents that then require to be considerably redrafted.  A well-produced draft reduces errors and this will reflect well on your professional portfolio. You are just starting out and it is important to get the small things right.  The small things done well will increase people’s confidence in your work and you are more likely to be trusted with more complex work as a result.

No question is a silly one – don’t be afraid to ask. You are surrounded by professionals who have most likely had similar experiences to you. By asking for help, it can deepen your understanding and help to gain insight into an issue or transaction.  

Know the topic and be prepared before you ask your question – it is always important to feel comfortable to ask a question, but this should be balanced with ensuring you have done your own research before asking the question.  The senior member of the team will likely have follow-up questions. By being prepared you are ensuring effective communication and maximising the learning opportunity.

Impostor syndrome is more common than you think.  Remind yourself that you have made it this far and you deserve to be where you are. 

Notes – the value of good note-taking should never be underestimated.  Ensure you have your pad and pen to hand and take clear notes when in a meeting, after a call or when taking instructions from other members of the team. 

Get to know your team - feeling comfortable in the workplace will help contribute to a better working environment and in turn help with your productivity. It also helps to know that no team member is the same and it is a good skill to be able to adapt to different situations. This can help when you are assisting different individuals, each will have their own style, preference and method of working. 


Friends - make them. Having shared experiences with someone means you can help each other and provide advice. 

It is okay to make mistakes. This is something that some people will find hard to accept at the beginning of their traineeship. Making mistakes as a trainee is somewhat beneficial as they can provide valuable learning experiences, growth opportunities, and enhance professional competence.  The trick is to learn from your mistakes.

Network – network actively within the legal community and beyond. Building relationships with peers, mentors, other professionals, and trainees at other firms can provide invaluable support, advice, and potential future collaboration. 

Always record your time – the legal profession is a service-based industry and you need to remember that time is money.

No two days are the same. Every day is different, with new challenges, new collaborations, and the opportunity to gain new skills. 

Complete your Law Society Logs/ Peat 2 entries regularly – even diarise an hour every week to do so. This is something many trainees are told at the start of the two-year period and regrettably ignore. 

Everyone wants you to succeed – they are there to help you.


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