We recently caught up with Robin Gronbech, to uncover what life is like as a trainee solicitor. Robin kindly shared his daily routine, hopes for the future, and key advice for aspiring solicitors.
Why did you choose to pursue a legal career?
I became interested in pursuing a legal career when I was in sixth form completing my A-levels. The legal sector is an interesting blend of historic tradition, with aspects of business, commerce, and modern innovation. I was attracted to the idea of a stimulating and dynamic career where each day is different from the last.
I decided I wanted to be a solicitor rather than a barrister as I enjoyed working as part of a team. Following a law degree at Exeter University and the Legal Practice Course at the University of Law, securing a training contract at Shakespeare Martineau offered me the fastest route to qualifying as a solicitor.
What has been a highlight of your career so far?
It’s difficult to pick just one moment! In my first week, I got to assist my team at a High Court hearing and our client won their case. He was extremely happy and I haven’t forgotten that feeling.
I’ve been with the firm’s employment team for eight months now and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a great mixture of contentious Tribunal work and non-contentious advice and support for organisations. Not to mention my team colleagues are so friendly and supportive.
Have you faced any challenges throughout your training?
Covid-19 has had a big impact on my training. I had only worked for six months before the virus came to Europe and changed everything. I’ve been working from home for a long time now, and sometimes you do miss the buzz of the office.
However, it’s looking like we may be heading for a hybrid model in the future, being in the office some days and at home for others each week. I think this would be the best of both worlds and I’m looking forward to it.
Could you give us an overview of what you do on an average day?
- 8:30am – Currently I work from home so my commute takes about 15 seconds. Very convenient!
- 9:15am – Morning team meeting on Zoom. Typically we discuss our current workload and if anyone has the capacity to take on new jobs or assist each other. We might also chat about new clients or marketing opportunities.
- 10:35am – Working on my assigned tasks. For example, I researched and wrote some advice to an employer on statutory maternity pay and maternity allowance.
- 12:00pm – Another common task is organising conferences between barristers, clients, and our team. These meetings allow us to prepare for upcoming Tribunal cases and to advise the clients on what to expect.
- 1:00pm – I try to step away from the desk and get a good break at lunchtime. I often go for a walk now that spring has arrived and the sun is out.
- 2:00pm – Another task I often do is prepare documents for Tribunal claims. For example, this might include a hearing bundle, a witness statement, or a chronology of events.
- 3:00pm – Marketing and business development is always on the agenda for law firms, so I often get involved in the preparation of articles for the website. We also publish a lot of resources like webinars on our SHMA on Demand page. This helps us attract new and returning clients, and lets them know the range of services we can provide.
- 5:00pm – Towards the end of the day I might update my training record, where I record the different types of work I have experienced and the skills I have developed. This will be submitted to the Solicitors Regulation Authority when I apply to be admitted to the roll of solicitors.
- 5:30pm – Now and then my team has after-work social events. We’ve had quizzes, pizza making, and a bonfire night themed evening (all on Zoom). There are also events organised by my fellow trainees. The trainees all work in different teams in the business, so it’s nice to catch up.
- 6:30pm – It’s rare that I’m still working at this time of night. However on rare occasions, I might be working on some last minute changes to a Witness Statement or a Tribunal hearing bundle if we need to meet a deadline. On most nights however, I would be cooking or eating dinner.
What are your goals and plans for the future?
I am really looking forward to qualifying as a solicitor in the summer. I am focused on the areas of employment law and commercial litigation.
Typically most junior lawyers have ambitions to progress up the ranks to the likes of associates, legal directors, and ultimately joining the partnership at their firm. I am no exception so this is also my goal.
What is one thing you would have liked to have known before?
I think aspiring lawyers will have heard this one before, but commercial awareness is extremely important to becoming a successful solicitor. What this means is that solicitors should know about the business world and how profit is generated.
I would recommend researching the definitions of business and accounting terminology and learning about how law firms operate as a commercial enterprise. This skill makes it easier to understand how clients’ businesses work, and often leads to better quality legal advice.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a solicitor?
I would say it is important to research the firms you apply to work for. The benefits of this are twofold, as you stand a greater chance of securing a role if you can demonstrate you know the firm well, but you can also determine if the firm is the right fit for you. Law firms come in many different shapes and sizes, and the working cultures can vary a lot.