Before starting my training contract, I had many preconceptions about being a trainee solicitor and what I wanted from my career at a law firm. I have shared a few of these beliefs below - and how they have reflected in my personal experience as a trainee at Womble Bond Dickinson:

The firm culture

Throughout the application process, you will consistently hear firms discuss their 'culture'. This was something that I valued when looking for the right law firm for me.

The reality of being a trainee at WBD is that the working culture is exactly as described. Throughout my first six months at the firm, I have felt supported by every single person within the business and have had consistent contact with people at all levels of seniority. I love having the opportunity to receive work and consequently feedback from the partners and managing associates in my team. This has enabled me to learn so much from people with an abundance of knowledge and experience. This also applies to the whole of my team. I have no reservations asking anyone questions and everyone has been so willing to provide me with an insight and teach me how to do things. The level of support from all of the teams and departments throughout the business is notable.

The work-life balance

Law firms tend to sell their businesses as having a great work-life balance. This was an extremely important consideration for me when I was looking at training contracts, as protecting your wellbeing is something that is non-negotiable at work. We have all heard the horror stories of trainees working 12-hour days, every day - and this was not something that I personally wanted.

I have experienced a great work-life balance at WBD. Of course, there will be days when you need to work outside of your 9-5, however, this is not an expectation. I am encouraged to log off when I am done with my work and if I am working slightly later, my colleagues often check in and ensure that I am not overworked. WBD also gives all colleagues one wellbeing day a year, which makes this hard work seem appreciated (I recently used this day to go to the spa). Alongside this, I have found WBD to be an extremely social place. We have had plenty of social activities in and around the office. My team recently went on an overnight trip to visit our Newcastle colleagues. I have really enjoyed doing things socially with my colleagues. WBD is well known for having a great work-life balance and this is something I have really seen to be true in the last six months.

Social mobility and volunteering

Coming from a working class background, I benefitted highly from a variety of social mobility schemes throughout school and university such as multiple The Sutton Trust programmes and other mentoring opportunities and schemes. These programmes introduced me to a career in law that I had never seen before and proved to me that someone with my background could become a successful lawyer. I am always grateful for the people who work at firms like WBD and have helped these schemes to progress. I believe that without the help of these people, I would not be sat here as a trainee solicitor today.

Even within my first few months at WBD, I have been given the opportunity to be involved in these social mobility schemes from the other side. I have really appreciated WBD giving me the opportunity to give back and help those who were in a similar position to myself at their age. I have recently completed the Envision Mentoring scheme where I was able to mentor some local year nine students from low socio-economic backgrounds. I am looking forward to carrying on this volunteering with a different set of students this month. I have also been shadowed by a work experience student for The Sutton Trust which felt like a very cyclical moment. WBD provides you with two volunteering days a year, which I have appreciated as their commitment to us giving back and helping the wider community. I have made WBD aware of my passion towards improving social mobility and feel very supported by the firm in achieving these goals.

This blog is written by Madeline Uren, Trainee Solicitor (currently sat in the Employment team) in Bristol at Womble Bond Dickinson. 

Madeline Uren