Episode 9 - Seat tasting

Trainees Laura, Hatti, Ollie and Tori discuss all things related to seat rotations and share what they've learnt along the way.

Seat tasting

Hello, my name is Laura Jackson and I'm a trainee solicitor at TLT. Welcome to another TLT podcast. I'm joined by a few special guests who will introduce themselves in just a moment, but first, I'll reveal what we'll be talking about today. In today's podcast, we will be discussing all things seat related. For those of you tuned in who are not familiar with the term, a seat is essentially just a department in the training contract world. As you embark on your training contract, you will rotate through a number of different seats within the firm. As I mentioned before, I have some special guests who are actually experiencing seats as we speak.

(Hatti) Hi, my name is Hatti, I'm a first seat trainee in corporate.

(Ollie) Hi, I'm Ollie, and I'm also a TLT trainee, currently in my first seat as well in social housing.

(Tori) Hi, I'm another first seater, and I'm in the development team.

(Laura) Thank you all for joining me. First off, I'd love to hear a little bit more about your current seat.

(Hatti) So, corporate is basically buying and selling companies. It's been described to me as being a traffic conductor, as you constantly manage lots of different moving parts, directing people and maintaining the flow of the transaction.

(Laura) Sounds great, and what is one thing you've learnt from your current seat?

(Hatti) How many different aspects of law that we deal with in corporate. So, I've dealt with property, employment, pensions, commercial, all sorts.

(Laura) Okay, that's great. So, Ollie, your turn.

(Ollie) Alright so, the social housing team deals, largely, with acquisitions of large sites of land to be developed into multiple plots for affordable homes and we do this mostly for housing associations and charitable clients.

(Laura) Lovely, and what is one thing you have learnt from your current seat?

(Ollie) I'd say that it's a little bit of initiative goes quite a long way. If you can spot an issue that might be something that your client needs to consider when they're developing, then if you can pose that to the client and speak with them before it becomes an issue, then you'll really add value to your client's relationship.

(Laura) Wonderful. Okay, and Tori?

(Tori) So, no two days are the same in the development team. The variety of work stems from the wide range of clients that the team advise. In a single day, you're likely to be dealing with large-scale affordable housing developers, developers of smaller luxury residential schemes, commercial and investment developers, right through to land owners and tenants.

(Laura) What's one thing you've learnt from your seat?

(Tori) That organisation is key. You'll feel a lot better about a challenge and about facing a challenge if you've got all your ducks in a row.

(Laura) Yes, and I think that probably goes for most seats as well. Okay, so now we're going to look at some question cards. I'm going to hand you each a question card in turn and you must read out the question you find there.

(Hatti) Okay. So, my question is, 'How much research did you do before you applied to TLT?' I think my answer might be slightly different to some other people's, because I actually worked here as a legal assistant. It gave me a huge opportunity to do so much in-depth research and I managed to speak to lots of other people in the firm before I applied.

(Laura) Sounds good. What about Tori and Ollie?

(Tori) Yes, I did a lot of research into TLT. Also, quite a lot of research into Bristol, because I didn't live here at the time when I was applying. So, I think it's very important to have a good feel of the firm and also the area.

(Ollie) Yes, I'd say, I mean, everyone will say that it's really important to do research, but as well as doing a lot of stuff online, I think a lot of my research was exploring what I really wanted from a firm, and then speaking to people at TLT about whether that aligned with what the firm was offering.

(Hatti) Yes, me, Tori, and Ollie all did vacation schemes here, and I think even just the research that we undertook during that week was, like, invaluable, I'd say.

(Ollie) Yes, definitely.

(Laura) Okay, so Ollie, I'm going to hand you a question card now.

(Ollie) Okay. Okay, so the question I have is, 'What's the culture like at TLT?'

(Tori) So, I think people have probably heard a lot about the culture of TLT, particularly if you're doing research. It is incredibly friendly, warm, supportive. I certainly have felt incredibly supported since I started here a couple of months ago.

(Hatti) I think there's just a certain vibe at TLT that everyone's, kind of, looking after each other and it is just such a friendly and warm place, and you don’t necessarily get that feeling when you're interviewing at other firms or anything. So, I think It has just got a unique culture, I would say.

(Ollie) Yeah, I think, speaking from having paralegalled at other firms, the difference to me is something as simple as, if you email a partner and say, 'Can we have a catch-up about something?' they'll say, 'Yeah, sure, put something in my diary, and you'll have fifteen minutes to chat, and you don't feel like it's an us and them. You're on a level playing field, and they treat you with respect and they'll support you to do whatever it is you're asking them about.

(Laura) Yeah, and I think that's added to by the fact that there's an open floor office plan. So, I actually sit next to the senior partner of the whole firm, which can be quite daunting, but in a way, it just shows how everyone's there to help each other, no matter, like, what level they're at. Okay, Tori, I'm going to hand you a question now.

(Tori) What is it like to have a supervisor?

(Hatti) So, I sit next to a solicitor who's three years qualified. It's absolutely invaluable having him sat next to me. I can ask him literally any question and he always takes the time to chat things through with me. I never feel that I'm just completely left on my own, and I think, like, having one dedicated person is really beneficial, whilst, you know, everyone else in the team is happy to help you, you do have that one point of contact for, like, any and all issues.

(Laura) Okay. Next questions for you, Ollie.

(Ollie) Okay, so the question is, 'Do you get involved in interesting projects?'

(Laura) I get involved in quite interesting projects. As I've said, I'm in EFP, in the public sector, so what that means is a lot of our clients are public sector clients. So, for example, we have the BBC and we have the police, and my work involves, like, drafting leases and it's interesting how, even though they're quite different clients, the substantive work's similar, but you have to vary what you're doing, depending on the client. It's also quite interesting how you have such recognisable names and I think that makes the work really varied as well.

(Tori) Even when I'm dealing with projects that are buildings I see around Bristol or, like, a development I would maybe drive past, then it is interesting to be able to, sort of, put a project or put something in 3D that relates to our work.

(Ollie) Yeah, my team at the moment deals with quite a lot of acquisitions of sites in the south west as well as working with the London team for the things that they do there, and work can get technical, which means it's interesting for me at least. It's, sort of, drawing together plans, maps, architects’ drawings, and just trying to work out which red line means what, and then pulling it all together and putting it into a contract or putting it into a schedule of something of a lease, and trying to achieve what your client wants and that's interesting.

(Laura) Okay. Tori, so, next question is for you.

(Tori) 'How confident did you feel when you joined TLT?' Well, I felt very, very unconfident. It was my first office job, so I was really overwhelmed by even the thought of, you know, sitting at a desk, sending emails, time recording. My first day, I felt so overwhelmed and it's amazing how, with the support that's offered and the team, over the last two months, those things all became second nature, and I think your confident does just grow and grow as you move along.

(Laura) Yeah, I think we all felt quite nervous, didn't we? We all, actually, met up for coffee before we came in on our first day to help settle the nerves, and I think even that really helped, and we all knew we were in the same boat, and it was going to be such a, like, learning experience for all of us. So, I'd worked as a paralegal before, so I maybe felt a little but more confident about working in an office, but it's definitely a lot different being a trainee and feeling the responsibility but, like you've already said, Tori, the support here just makes it so much better.

(Ollie) Even if you've paralegaled before, I mean, I have as well, you will naturally be nervous, but all your nerves will go away as soon as you've spent even a week or two with your team.

(Laura) Yeah.

(Tori) Maybe not all of them.

(Ollie) No, but your team will go above and beyond to make sure you're comfortable and that you know what you're doing, and they'll sit you down and they'll teach you, and then you've always got, as we've all said, your intake to keep you sane.

(Hatti) Yeah, and the older trainees as well have been so lovely and so helpful, and have, a lot of the time, done the seats before us, so they can be your, like, go-to to ask any silly questions as well. So, that's really, really nice.

(Laura) Okay. So, the last question is, 'How do you manage your workload?' Personally, I like to keep a little task tab open with all the different tasks that I have each day and then tick it off when it's complete. I also always have, like, a notebook and pen on my desk, so anytime Ed's head pops up to get me to quickly look something up, I can scribble it down. I think that's key, always having a pen and paper. It's just so you can get the instructions right from the get-go.

(Hatti) So, I have a similar approach to you, Laura, but I also, having, I think, just learnt from being a paralegal in the past, I really try to drill down when I'm given a task as to what the exact deadline is, because everyone will always say to you, 'Oh, it's as soon as possible, and I think it's really important to learn how to manage everyone's expectations, including yourself. So, before you take on new work, you know, maybe check in with your supervisor what's coming up in your week and knowing if you have capacity to take something on, so you never feel overwhelmed or like you haven't got enough on. It's just a way of keeping a good balance.

(Laura) We've mentioned a few of the seat opportunities there are at TLT, but we haven't mentioned them all. There are too many to mention them all here today. There's a wide range of sector experience available here at TLT, with over 60 leaders in their field throughout the business. That means there are lots of opportunities to experience areas and work with experts in the firm. It's a really exciting aspect of the trainee programme.

Well, thank you all for taking part in the podcast today. To find out more about careers at TLT, visit the website at careers.tltsolicitors.com.

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