Flexibility is a quality that many organisations look for in their employees and Pinsent Masons is no different. We also recognise that people value an employer who can be flexible and adapt to changes in their own lives. In short flexibility is a two-way street.
Being a full service firm we are able to provide our trainees with a broad training contract; the geographic spread of both our clients and our offices also offers a level of variety that many smaller/single location firms can find difficult to match. Servicing these disparate client needs inevitably brings challenges and this is where tensions can sometimes arise. Over the next couple of weeks our current trainees will explain the pros and cons of working at a firm where a willingness to be flexible is both valued and expected. In the first of this series of posts Rhodri Evans explains how in just his second seat this has already come to the fore.
A little over six months has passed since I joined the firm and the words spoken by the Graduate Development Team and David Ryan (our big boss) on our first day have never been more appropriate. Towards the end of our first day’s induction, the trainees were told of the need to be “flexible”. Some of the trainees took this to mean that the firm would be providing free yoga classes – they were wrong!
As a law firm, our people and their knowledge is our commodity. In order to provide quality legal services to clients and to maximise the efficient use of the firm’s resource, its people must be flexible. Simply put, flexibility is all about going where you’re needed.
For example, I’m a trainee in the London office but I’ve been sent to our Bristol office for my second training seat. Why? Well, because there’s a need for a trainee at the Bristol office.
Being told that I was relocating for six months did come as a bit of a shock. But, any hesitation was personal (i.e. not wanting to leave friends and family in London) and my mind was soon put at ease when I was sat down and told about how what the process involves. The firm supports trainees it sends to other offices or client premises in every respect. While there we’re still a part of the firm and involved in its activities and, crucially, we are supported financially so that being flexible does not impose a monetary cost on the individual.
I am now starting my fourth week in the Bristol office and am thoroughly enjoying my experience here. Whilst the office is much smaller than our London office, the people here are very friendly, very experienced and great fun – there’s a lot of banter!
Being relocated is something prospective trainees should be aware of and expect during the course of their training contract. After all, our industry is very mobile. My advice is to take hold of such an opportunity and enjoy every minute of it. You never know, you may be sent to a warmer climate (one of our London trainees was asked to go to our Dubai office for his second seat).
Furthermore, this mobility doesn’t start and finish during your training contract. Throughout your legal career, you will be expected to remain flexible. For example, we have seconded a partner and a solicitor to a large construction project until its completion. This enables us to really be involved in our client’s work and to understand (and solve) problems if and when they arise.
So, always bear in mind the possibility that the firm may relocate you to either another office or to a client. The relocation will be based on the needs of the business. My tips are to remain positive and take every opportunity that comes along.