Life as a Trainee: Benjamin McGlinchey
I was not sure what to expect before I started my training contract last September, dauntingly walking through the door on the first day with only three weeks’ summer placement experience under my belt and only recognising a handful of friendly faces. I had just spent the summer months travelling the USA and Canada, so stirring thoughts of legal practice were hard to summon up. Suffice as to say, I was nervous starting!
With all that said, the firm did their best to make the trainees feel welcome – providing us with a full induction week to acclimatise to everything we needed to, from basic IT skills to the best spots to grab lunch, finally easing us into our new team by the end of week one. Everyone was instantly approachable.
My first seat was in the corporate finance team, which I really enjoyed. Throughout university the words ‘corporate finance’ to me were just buzzwords you’d see written in textbooks and spoken about in tutorials as I sat rather glaikit, querying what a corporate finance lawyer actually did. Ardent to learn, I was instantly made to feel welcome by the team. The team involved me in some really interesting transactions straight from the get-go, making me feel like a valued member of the team and offering a good level of client contact. I also managed to attend a couple of physical completions…popping champagne in the office is definitely a ‘trainee task’ to remember. The Corporate Finance team were also very social, regularly having events to attend post-work hours and I even managed to slip away one quiet Friday afternoon for a business development five-a-side tournament!
Having really enjoyed my time in the corporate finance team, for my second seat I headed out on secondment to EDF Renewables, a key client of the firm. The firm offers a variety of exciting secondment opportunities for trainees in sectors such as renewable energy, banking and corporate finance – I would really encourage anyone to go on secondment if the opportunity arises! My time at EDF Renewables was very different from my first seat; more client-facing and offered me a greater level of responsibility than before. The work included elements of property law, commercial contracts, renewables energy and even some litigation work – a real mixed bag! I feel that I learned a lot in the six months that I was with EDF Renewables and they really endeavoured to make me feel part of the team. It was great to see how a law firm operates from the client’s point of view.
During my third week with EDF Renewables, COVID-19 forced all of the team to work from home. Whilst there is a growing trend and desire for further employee flexibility, this was a new experience for me, having only been in the office for a number of months. Both the firm and my colleagues at EDF Renewables were supportive – providing me with equipment to get going from a monitor to the little things, such as printer ink. Throughout the six months, I had regular catch ups with partners at the firm, remained was in touch with friends I made during my first seat and attended firm social events where possible, so I always felt the firm cared about their secondees and never felt distant from the firm.
I am currently in the Tech & Commercial team. In the Tech & Commercial team, no two days are the same. It is a very exciting time to be getting some experience to work with tech companies. Maybe it is just me, but I find there is something especially stimulating helping start-ups grow, especially when you find one with an entrepreneurial vision. Typically, most days will involve some general queries from our clients, which can range from basic advice on IT, to the weird and wonderful intricacies of intellectual property law. Usually, there will also be some drafting, which involves being in constant dialogue with clients to nail down exactly what they are looking for. Finally, I have been involved in assisting the Corporate Finance team with large transactions, reviewing and commenting on contracts as part of a larger scale due diligence exercise. To summarise, I love the variety that my job brings.
My traineeship so far has been wide-ranging and the firm really tried hard to accommodate my preferences. From the get-go, I have felt that the firm are genuinely invested in my development and that I am a valued member of the firm as a whole. Not only have I been able to get involved in exciting work during my traineeship, I have also been able to get involved socially at the firm (attending events such as the firm barbecues and playing midweek five-a-side football). The firm has also been overwhelmingly supportive of my Movember effort via it's charity foundation, and I have been able to take an active role in BD events with clients – any excuse to get a game of golf in!
It is important to remember that being a trainee can have its more trying moments. Between imminent deadlines, intricate points of law and demanding hours, it is important to be proactive, adaptable and maintain a positive outlook. The senior members of your team have been there before and you always have fellow trainees to share experiences together, solve problems and seek advice. There is always someone to turn to if you need help and the experiences you can get, be it a client secondment, or just being involved in a completion in the corporate finance team, are brilliant for your personal development.
I love the variety being a trainee at Burness Paull offers, and I am looking forward to making the most of the rest of this seat and the next!