For someone who had never worked in an office let alone a law firm before, the start of my training contract was always going to be something of a culture shock. For the last few years, alongside my studies and through most of the pandemic, I was working primarily in the shoe department of a high street store.
My working life has now changed dramatically. Marking down sale items is out; marking up leases is in. Instead of a rota dividing my day into long stints on the tills, fitting room or delivery, I'm now responsible for recording my own time in six-minute units. I no longer handle queries like "can you find me a pair of heels to go with this dress?", but rather "what are my rights under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954?". And absent a treadmill desk, I've resigned myself to the fact that I'll never again reach the same average step count during the workday, no matter how many trips I make to the kitchen.
When you don't know how to do something, particularly something that sounds quite basic, it's easy to start doubting yourself and your abilities. But learning curves are simply part and parcel of starting something new, whether it's a job in retail or as a trainee solicitor. My first day finding my way through the document management system felt not that dissimilar to my first day behind the till, although I doubt that mastering the search function will be quite as difficult as figuring out exactly which till button will allow you to manually process a gift card.
Everyone at Russell-Cooke has been incredibly supportive during this first month and I've learnt a lot because of it. From the more experienced trainees to my colleagues in the real estate department, someone has always been willing to point me in the right direction when I've been unsure of something. Nobody will judge you for asking the question because everyone's been new to something at some point. If you're lucky, they might even pass on some tips they wish they'd been given when they first started out.