Filing. Photocopying. Paper-plane folding.

Filing. Photocopying. Paper-plane folding.  For any of you who have ever been on a work experience placement these activities will sound painfully familiar.  It was therefore with some apprehension that I began my train journey down to London in early September wondering what mind-numbingly dull jobs would be in store for me over the next seven months…

My preconceptions rapidly changed however as soon as I arrived in the capital, where I found myself with a key to a room in what can only be described as one of the nicer 5* hotels in London and sitting in a room full trainee solicitors listening to Managing Partner, David Ryan.  Not typical treatment for the new office boy!  It quickly struck me that I shouldn’t have been apprehensive about the kind of work I would be getting, but instead whether I would be up for the challenge of a gap year at Pinsent Masons.

So what are the typical experiences of a gap year student?

Well, firstly each day has been different and you never know quite what tasks might hit you when you enter the office each morning.  A normal working day can be turned upside down when you need to set up an urgent conference call with a client in Paris during lunch time for example.  One day you may be preparing documents for disclosure in a multi-million pound deal, the next you may find yourself sitting next to counsel in a court case.  You might even find yourself giving careers advice to school students (yes all one month of it!).

One of the big highlights, for me, is that unlike many other work experience placements you really feel part of the team and generally speaking you aren’t treated any differently to those trainee solicitors who are also in their first six months of a training contract.  This brings with it real responsibility and all of a sudden you may find yourself working late into the night (although so far this has been the exception), but I have often found that these are the days which are most exciting.  The most recent example for me was a week spent in Leicester at a Tribunal Case with a Senior Associate at the firm.  This meant I often wouldn’t be getting home until nine in the evening, but all the hard work was worth it as  it hhas given me a great insight into the workings of tribunals.

The social side of a gap year at Pinsent Masons is also something you rapidly immerse yourself in.  Admittedly it can be frustrating to see former school friends going for regular nights out at university but sooner or later this is balanced out when you go for your first night out (paid for by the firm) with the Birmingham Trainee Solicitors’ Society.  Recently I attend their annual ball and  I would be surprised if most university events could match this.  You may be thinking this sounds too good to be true?  You would be right – it doesn’t happen on a regular basis but there are always trainees around for a drink or a trip to the cinema when you have finished a day at work.

All in all, the Pinsent Masons gap year has been a great experience for me so far and I know that the skills I have been developing will help me get the most out of my time at university.  The money I am earning I intend to use for a once in a lifetime trip to South America  before commencing my studies (something I would not have been able to do othwerwise) and I know that when I am looking for a graduate job I will have some great experience to point to on my CV.

So if you are thinking of applying for a gap year at Pinsent Masons my advice would be go for it, it is something you will not regret but if you do have any questions let me know by leaving a comment.

Sam