Question Time: What responsibility is given to trainees at the beginning and do you feel that there is adequate support from senior members?


Our Question Time campaign answers common queries raised by Howard Kennedy Trainee candidates. So here's the inside scoop!

You may start your training contract a little anxious, contemplating how you'll cope with your workload and competing priorities. All trainees go through this at some point. However, you need not be alarmed as there is plenty of support!


From day one of your training contract you can expect to be given a number of responsibilities. My first seat was in Commercial Litigation and during my first few weeks I was pulled onto a case to do a disclosure review task. This involved me having to review around 1,000 documents a day. In addition to this, I also assisted my supervisor on a number of tasks as well as assisting other fee earners and partners on matters that they were dealing with.

Typical tasks in Commercial Litigation included drafting instructions to counsel, taking a witness statement from a client, drafting statements of case, making various court applications and preparing research notes. I was also given my own case load of the firm's debt recovery matters to deal with and progress as necessary, which was great for understanding the process of a claim from the start.

As you become familiar with a particular matter, you will naturally take on more responsibility as that matter progresses. Conversely, if you have capacity or want to take on more work - don't be afraid to ask! Put yourself out there if you feel that you don't have enough responsibility or have some capacity. This will give you exposure to good quality work and fee earners will start approaching you directly to involve you in their matters.


Support is available from a number of people.

To help ease you into your seat you'll be allocated a "buddy" - they're great for answering any specific questions that you may have and they're there to help you settle in during the first few weeks. Fortunately, my buddy was sat directly behind me and had also just qualified into the seat, so it wasn’t long before I was brought up to speed on the department's expectations and who to ask for what.

Your supervisor (usually a Senior Associate or Partner) is there to support you and will be your main point of call. My supervisor changed during my first seat (the first one moved to pastures new) and they were both very approachable and supportive.

Each department also has a Partner who oversees the trainees in that department. Their focus is on you, your development, ensuring that you are settling in and have a good support network around you. They'll also make sure that you're being given a suitable amount and breadth of work.

Lastly, trainees are each allocated a mentor (usually a Senior Associate). You're encouraged to meet with your mentor regularly to see how things are going and discuss your development. They've been in your shoes before so can relate to you.

Look out for next week's blog on what pro-bono and charity initiatives trainees can get involved in.

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