Our Question Time campaign answers common queries raised by Howard Kennedy Trainee candidates. So here's the inside scoop!
Being a trainee at Howard Kennedy means a high level of responsibility from the get go, whether you're attending client meetings, negotiating commercial points, instructing counsel in litigation matters, handling day to day conduct of debt files, being the main point of contact for a client, or handling completions – just to name a few.
While often initially daunting, nothing gives a greater sense of achievement or personal growth than getting to the end of a transaction and realising the key role you played in helping the client achieve their desired outcome. (Though receiving praise from the client is a close second!)
In my experience, the only things that really give you the confidence to handle these levels of responsibility are time and experience – the more you have done, the more you can do.
Unfortunately, time and experience are not things you can rush or control, but there are a few things you can do along the way…
The greater the variety of the situations you seek out and the more you consistently push yourself just that little bit outside your comfort zone, the more you realise you can handle whatever comes your way.
Set a goal at the beginning of every week that takes you just that little bit outside your comfort zone. Start with the little things, like phoning a client from your desk instead of a quiet room, or answering the phone when you don't recognise who's calling. Small steps like this will assist you to build the confidence necessary to volunteer for greater responsibilities in future transactions.
As a trainee it's true that there's no such thing as a silly question! Members of your team are always on hand to answer your questions or give you guidance or assistance where needed.
It's not what you say; it’s how you say it
It's all too easy to assume when a client phones out of the blue, they expect an immediate and perfect answer.
It is important to remember that in any circumstance where you're unsure, you must explain that you would like to research further to enhance your understanding. Assure the client that you will call back at a specific time with as comprehensive an answer as possible. This approach will develop a relationship of trust with your clients and confidence within yourself.
Last, but certainly not least, it's crucial to be patient with yourself. While you'll overhear senior members of your team have conversations with clients and give answers that just roll off the tongue, it's important to remember they have years of experience behind them.
Experience and expertise aren't developed overnight, but practice makes perfect. Putting yourself out there as a trainee will help you build confidence and knowledge that will assist you throughout your entire career.
Look out for next week's Question Time blog on the top tips for success in your seat.