How will I adapt to the general office environment of a law firm? Where could life at Pinsent Masons (“PM”) take me? How can sitting at a desk in an office be described as ‘agile working’? These are just a few of the questions I was asking myself as I started life at PM.
Having just started my training contract, I’m getting used to office surroundings and discovering the culture specific to PM. I’ve been relocated from London (where I did my vacation placement) to Glasgow for my first seat, so I’m experiencing first-hand the inter-office opportunities that life at PM can bring your way.
Adapting to the Office Environment
In London, PM boasts 15 floors – highlights include the outdoor balcony area on the 7th floor, plus rooms on the 14th and 15th floors with panoramic views to ‘wow’ any visitor. In Glasgow, PM may take up just 2 floors, but these are at the top of the building and offer views not only of the city but of distant wind-turbines, so quite different to the London perspective. My point is wherever you’re based during your time at PM, there are many similarities when it comes to office life. Whilst there will, of course, be training and induction regarding things like printer usage and postal services, I’m going to highlight a couple of more niche areas that may be of use.
One unusual concept is that of ‘agile working’. A quick web search defines ‘agile’ as “able to move quickly and easily”; you would therefore be forgiven for being sceptical about how typing away on a laptop whilst sitting at your desk could be described as ‘agile’. What PM has done is create an approach where you do not have your own desk as such. You may book a desk for two weeks at a time, but with the chance to mix it up a little. By constantly changing your proximity to different work colleagues, you get a greater breadth of interaction, as you gain some understanding of the variety of work people are involved in and the different approaches they take. This is perfect for a new trainee; I found myself sat opposite two partners in my first week…a baptism of fire but an immediate learning opportunity. Considering that this works alongside flexible working hours and the occasional chance to work from home, it’s clear that PM are taking a modern approach to the working environment while building on one of their core values of being ‘connected’.
Something I underestimated before starting life at PM was the importance of office practicalities. By this, I mean how to approach busy people, inter-office interactions and simple jobs, such as making coffee or doing the ‘roll run’ (a particular Scottish tradition of collecting bacon rolls on a Friday morning!). The theme here is to be personal – talk to people instead of emailing, offer to do all sorts of tasks and build a relationship with as many team members as possible. By doing this, you create an environment where there is mutual comfort between you and more senior members of the department; this allows for personal development and better work opportunities.
Re-location, Re-location, Re-location…
You’ll know by now that PM has offices all over the UK, and indeed the world. What you may not yet be aware of, however, is that there are chances to experience different UK offices without the need for permanent relocation.
For business reasons, PM sometimes places trainees outside of their ‘base’ office for one of their training contract seats. As mentioned above, my first seat has found me up in Glasgow. Whilst relocation may sound daunting, in reality it is a chance to explore a different city and work in a new office without totally uprooting your life. Other benefits include PM providing you with an apartment close to the office (goodbye long commutes and hello 10-minute walks to work!), covering travel costs and helping with removal services. The opportunities provided by PM in this respect are indicative of a fluid, cooperative culture that develops a broader set of legal and personal skills.
A more frequent example of this inter-connecting nature of work is the daily correspondence and assistance provided between offices. Whilst it will come as no shock that PM utilise their lawyers from all over the UK for different transactions, the fact that I’ve been at PM for less than 6 months and have already worked with colleagues in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland demonstrates just how regular these types of interactions are. You’ll get the opportunity to develop a number of useful relationships and create an inclusive environment across the country.
Culture – ‘Being’ PM
If you’ve secured a training contract with PM, you have shown that you have the right skills and attributes to make an excellent PM lawyer. What’s important to note is that fitting in at PM is no challenge at all – the atmosphere is inclusive, friendly and welcoming. There are also plenty of opportunities to get involved in ‘non-work’ activities – be it sports, pro bono work, charity events and more; PM are keen to maintain employee work-life balance (granted, this may be a buzz-phrase…but it’s true!).
Something that’s struck me about PM is that the environment is similarly welcoming in both the London and Glasgow offices. In other companies, the approachable atmosphere could be lost inside a 15-floor building, yet PM has managed to create a culture whereby this is as present in the larger London office as in Glasgow’s 2-floor space. I’ve found this to be indicative of PM’s general nature; consistently ‘open’ surroundings that induce comfort in employees.
My final thought is simple – with a proactive and personable approach, PM offers wide-ranging and appealing opportunities for all.
This blog was written by Alex Tresadern, Trainee Solicitor in Glasgow office.