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        Six month seats

        As we move into a more traditional seat rotation for our training contract (now four six month seats rather than six four month seats), it's essential that you fully understand the benefits of the new process before attending assessment centres.

        Two of our second year trainees Charlotte Evans (London trainee) and Lizzie Relins (Leeds trainee) discuss the benefits to the new approach having experienced both the four month and six month seats.

        Lizzie says "I started my training contract with no idea about where I might like to qualify, so the idea of having six four month seats appealed to me. After I had completed a couple of seats I began to realise there might be advantages to staying where you are for longer. Although some of the knowledge you gain from one seat might help you in others, the beginning of each seat can feel like starting your training contract all over again". Charlotte also approves of the new format, adding "The ability to acquire new skills and produce high quality work is something that takes time in any new department as you’re often dealing with such different areas of law".

        Charlotte believes that the new format allows trainees to have a greater insight into each department, and starts by saying "The move to six month seats now means trainees can spend time finding their feet and, by the end of the six months, be making valuable contributions to the team". Lizzie agrees "After a while you get to know everyone and you start to really understand the work you are being given. In turn, you are given more responsibility by your team and you start to feel more confident in the work you are doing. You learn to manage your own workload and use your own initiative when it comes to making decisions".

        Furthermore, another advantage of the six month seats is the additional exposure to cases which you will get. Lizzie says "In addition to gaining more experience in each practice area, an advantage of longer seats is you get to see cases progress over a longer period of time. In my four month Real Estate seat, I worked hard on the refinance of a property portfolio that the next trainee then completed. In Construction, I worked on an adjudication and subsequent enforcement action and the next trainee was the one going to the Technology and Construction Court a week after I moved seats".

        Lizzie continues "Now I'm in my six month Regulatory seat, I should be able to attend the inquest in March for a fatal accident that happened at the start of my seat in October. Although we will be supporting the client far beyond the end of my seat, it will give me a better understanding of how this kind of case progresses".

        Building up client relationships is an exciting and essential part of a training contract, as Charlotte says "Having also completed a client secondment, I can wholeheartedly say that our clients endorse a six-month seat structure. The levels of responsibility are even greater when working for our clients, with the need to develop an understanding of the differences of in-house practice. Therefore, a six-month stint with a client allows trainees to not only implement their newly acquired skills fully, to the benefit of the client, but also to foster new relationships across the client's business."

        Lizzie agrees, suggesting "Longer seats also mean more continuity for clients. On some matters you may be the point of contact for the client and you can build a better relationship with the client in six months than in four".

        Finally, Charlotte summarises by saying "Six months therefore offers some breathing room, and allows you focus on the tasks in hand and produce quality work for a longer period of time before you have to move on. Fortunately, I have really enjoyed all of my seats so far and in each case felt that I wanted at least an extra two months in the department!"