My first month in Real Estate Commercial as a Trainee Solicitor

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My first month in Real Estate Commercial as a Trainee Solicitor

I had intended to write an article about my first day as a trainee… then about my first week… and now I seem to have blinked and a whole month has passed since I started. There’s so much to learn and to get to grips with that time seems to be flying.

Prior to starting at JMW, I had never worked in a law firm before. Before I made the decision to switch to law, I had worked in a start-up charity with two other recent graduates, and I knew that work in a law firm was going to be very different to that. Additionally, I had applied to JMW during the pandemic, so all my interviews had been online and I hadn’t visited the offices or met any of the employees face-to-face before I accepted my offer. Needless to say, on my first day (ok, week), I was very nervous about how I would fit in, what the work would be like, whether what I had learned on the GDL and LPC would be enough to help me get by…

Week 1

On my first day I headed off to work early as I didn’t trust the trains and was at the office by 8:25am so I walked around to get to know the area. JMW’s Manchester office is in the heart of Spinningfields, and the area is full of life with lots of places to eat, drink and shop just outside the door. It’s always good to know that you can get good coffee near where you work. (As it turned out, I needn’t have bothered – there’s a coffee shop on the ground floor of JMW that does great cappuccinos!)

The first few days were spent in training sessions, learning about JMW as a firm, its marketing strategies, how it works, and becoming familiar with the IT systems. On the first day, JMW took all of its trainees (almost 50 of us!) out for drinks and canapes after work as a chance for us to get to know each other and they also arranged lunch for us all on the second day.

I had prepared myself to be absolutely exhausted by the end of my first week (hence looking for all the nearby caffeine sources on my first day) and so I had made no plans for the weekend except recovering, but I was pleasantly surprised by how relaxed the first week was.

My First Seat - Real Estate Commercial

I’m in Real Estate Commercial as my first seat. My team is very friendly, which has been important for settling in. All new trainees are assigned a second-year trainee as a buddy. I found this helpful because as willing as everyone is to show you how to do things, it’s occasionally a bit more comfortable asking your buddy the silly questions, such as how to log into your phone or how to photocopy a document, than it is a partner.

We also have a dedicated supervisor, who in my case is Will, a senior associate. He’s the main person giving me work, making sure I learn, and answering my questions – curiously, he booked the second week off in my training contract, and I’m hoping it wasn’t because I bombarded him with so many questions in my first week that he needed a rest!

Nevertheless, every day I’m reminded that everyone is there to help if I have any questions or need help. People make time to go through the work that I’m doing so that I know what I have to do and then give me valuable feedback on what I’ve done.

The office I work in is open plan and I sit on a desk with five other people. The open-plan layout is very useful for getting answers quickly to any questions that crop up, so I’m never left struggling on my own. It’s just as well that the partners are friendly and not too scary, though, because I’m sat next to and diagonally opposite one!

In a job that can be stressful, a good and friendly team is everything. And it’s especially good to have that relationship because, as a trainee, I need to know that the partners won’t be annoyed or impatient when I ask for help. Thankfully, JMW seems to more than understand this.

Work I have done

The work itself has been very diverse. I’ve done a huge variety of work in my first month, including an exchange of contracts (in my second week!), drafting documents, amending contracts, completions of sale and registering post-completion documents, and reports on leases and title for clients so that they can understand what they are buying/selling. I’ve been pleasantly surprised how much responsibility I’ve been given but feel reassured that my work is checked to ensure that I’ve done it correctly. 

Typical Day

In a typical day, I get to the office for about 8:30am. I check my emails and anything that has come in overnight and update my to do list. I generally have a chat with my supervisor to go over what needs doing and how to go about it and then crack on with work. I get an hour for lunch and I tend to go out for a walk. I usually finish about 5:30pm.

The hours so far have been far more reasonable than I was braced for. JMW are really good about trying to ensure that you have a work-life balance, which was emphasised to us in our induction. For example, once a month, employees can book to finish an hour early on a Friday.


Overall, my first month has been very positive and I feel like I’m settling in well. JMW is a great firm to work for – the people are great, the work is a nice balance of being given responsibility but having a safety net of supervision, and the firm as a whole is very keen to support its employees’ development and wellbeing.

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