Three months in, and time for my first appraisal…

At the time of writing this, I am halfway through my first seat as a trainee.  At the start you are certainly aware that you are learning vast amounts everyday, and the longing for bed at 9.30pm is testament to that, but it is only on looking back that you realise just how much you have learned, and (in contrast to looking back on exams you sat 2 months ago), how much you have retained.

These days someone can ask me a question, or ask me to do some research, without needing to provide background information on the law.  I can even chip in with some answers without having to consult the books (shock horror!).  I know where to find answers, what resources to look up, and, crucially, when asking another person is a much better idea than trawling the internet.

Picture an exponential learning curve, which is maybe only just starting to look like a curve rather than a straight line.  Along this line imagine lots of little dots of work that I have done for various people.  Thinking back to those early pieces of work, I started to realise that I would do them differently now that I have some experience under my belt.  I then started to wonder what people really thought about the work I was doing for them.

In theory you should get feedback on your work as you go along, but when something is a 30 minute job, feedback adds on half as much time again. Did those “good, thanks” and “thanks for doing that” email replies actually translate as “I could have done that faster”, or “yeah, that’s ok, but I would have done it differently”?  This is where the appraisal comes in.

The Law Society of Scotland, as part of our PEAT 2 training, asks for appraisals to be carried out every 3 months.  Some supervisors will choose to do appraisals more frequently, or at least have a catch-up in between times to check up on how you are doing.  For the Law Society one though, everything is a bit more thorough.  My supervisor asked me for a list of people for whom I had done work, in order to ask them for feedback on my general body of work throughout the three months.

Waiting to hear what everyone had to say is like waiting for your mum to read your school report card: you’re pretty sure it will be ok, but slightly worried all the same.  As it turns out, I am barking up the right tree, people are not silently muttering that I am doing things wrong, and ‘good’ does actually mean ‘good’.  What a relief to hear that people are happy with the work you are doing for them, that they like you, and that you are doing a good job.  It makes all that learning worthwhile and has given me a valuable confidence boost for the remaining three months in this seat.


Marie Penman, first seat trainee, TMT (technology, media and telecoms), Glasgow office.