Steele Raymond has a new training programme which is proving to be very successful. The firm is committed to investing in this trainee programme, and it shows - over the years it has gone from strength to strength with a fantastic retention rate of trainees, who have chosen to stay with the firm rather than go to a bigger city practice.
How long has the current SR training programme been available?
I joined the firm around three and a half years ago from a trainee partner position at a previous firm. When I joined, I set up a two-point programme; a trainee recruitment programme and the training programme itself. The new recruitment programme is looking to attract as many applications as possible from as wide a group of people as possible including candidates with degrees other than law degrees.
Which other degree holders would you hope to attract?
It can vary; we receive quite a few applications from those with history degrees, English degrees – we’ve even heard from those with science degrees. We recognise the fact that students with different degrees will bring a different set of skills to the firm and that is a great basis for the continued organic growth of the firm. Students who do not have a law degree will need to study for the law conversion course, the graduate diploma in law (GDL), before then studying for the Legal Practice Course (LPC), which will be changing soon to the Solicitors Qualification Exam (SQE).
Tell us about the recruitment programme.
Once we have sifted through all the applications we invite approximately 20 applicants to submit a two-minute video of themselves answering set questions. We then invite around 12 of those applicants to attend an assessment day. After the assessment day, we will invite up to 5 applicants back for the final stage of the process which is an interview with myself, the Managing Partner and the Chairman.
What is the assessment day like?
It is very much a two-way process as we recognise the fact that the applicants need to decide whether they would want to work for a firm like Steele Raymond as much as we are assessing the candidates. As part of that day, the candidates take part in different tasks; an individual presentation, a group exercise where they have to work together to problem solve, and there are also some written assessments. We break the day up with talks from various members of the firm including a recently qualified solicitor who will talk about his or her experience as a trainee. There is also an opportunity for the candidates to meet other solicitors in the firm at lunchtime so that they can ask more questions about the firm and the training contract.
Tell us more about the training.
I make sure that everyone has a structured training programme. Typically, a trainee will spend six months in up to four different teams (seats) within the firm. A trainee will need to have experience in three distinct areas of law before qualifying. I meet with each trainee and their supervisor on a monthly basis to review progress and we also have a final in-depth review at the end of each seat. The trainees are given a checklist relevant to the team that they are working in so that they can keep a log of the types of work they have done and this helps us to ensure that they are gaining as much experience as possible. We like our trainees to get involved right from the start and so a trainee should expect to be attending client meetings, drafting documents, carrying out legal research, preparing letters of advice, attending court hearings and speaking to clients on the telephone.
What else do the trainees do?
The trainees produce their own staff newsletter once a quarter – the trainees are solely responsible for putting that together. They also run their own Instagram account, which they love doing, and this helps to show future trainees what life is like here at Steele Raymond. These new elements of our training programme have earned Steele Raymond a nomination this year for the Lawcareers.net ‘Best trainer – medium regional firm’ award.
Is this a national award?
Yes. There are seven well respected firms in our category and we are very excited to be nominated. A survey is sent out by Lawcareers.net to the firm’s trainees and the newly qualified solicitors, and the nominations are decided from the results of that survey. This is the second year we have been nominated for this award so we are hoping to win this year!
We have also had very good reviews on the Lex 100 (a student guide to law firms), which is great for us. Two years ago we won two training awards– winner of ‘stress levels award’ and the ‘inclusiveness award’.
Have you noticed a difference since the new training programme?
Absolutely. We are now approached at recruitment fairs through word of mouth. It has previously proved quite difficult to attract trainees to come to Bournemouth instead of London (unless they have a previous connection to the town), but that attitude is changing as trainees hear how good our training programme is – and how attractive it is living in this beautiful part of the world!
Why stay with SR after training? We hear from recent trainees, now qualified:
“I chose to stay with the firm on qualification because I gained so much valuable hands-on and client facing experience during my training contract that was a fantastic start to my legal career. I enjoyed working alongside experienced and knowledgeable colleagues who are committed to providing an outstanding client service through focussed and commercially driven advice. Steele Raymond has an unparalleled reputation for dealing with a wide range of the most complex, demanding and high quality work across all its practice areas for both commercial and private clients. I wanted to progress my career as a solicitor at a forward-thinking and innovative firm and I was continually impressed during my training contract that the firm is always looking to the future.”
– Alice Toop, Solicitor – Dispute Resolution Team
“I decided to stay with the firm following qualification, as I wanted to continue learning from some of the best commercial property solicitors on the south coast. The firm is highly regarded in the area and I wanted to be part of its growth. I also really enjoy the atmosphere and friendly nature of the firm.”
– Rosanna Parker, Solicitor – Commercial Property Team
“My decision to stay with Steele Raymond has largely been driven by the supportive nature of everyone in the office and the career progression that can be achieved here. Equally, the diversity of work the firm attracts also plays a huge factor in making Steele Raymond an interesting and exciting firm to be a part of”.
– Shaun Guppy, Associate Solicitor – Company & Commercial Team
Apply for a Training Contract
The deadline for submissions for 2021 and 2022 training contracts at Steele Raymond is 31 May 2019. If you are interested in applying for a training contact, or would like more to know more about the Trainee Solicitor Programme at Steele Raymond, please contact Jennifer Rogerson at [email protected].
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