Life as a Trainee Solicitor at Davidson McDonnell
September 2018 marks my 3rd anniversary working for Davidson McDonnell and the end of my first year as their very first trainee solicitor. I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to work for Davidson McDonnell having previously known David McDonnell whilst working in my first professional post following graduation from university in 2013. Although we didn’t work with each other directly, David has told me that my outgoing personality made an impression on him; as it turns out, being blessed with the gift of the gab maybe isn’t an entirely bad thing after all.
I began my training contract in September 2017 within the Commercial Property department of the firm. My two years prior to that were spent working within that team so I was not completely out of my comfort zone; something that has begun to change having started my Dispute Resolution seat in June 2018.
Whilst the Davidson McDonnell team is relatively small compared to that of the other leading commercial firms in Northern Ireland, the standard and professionalism of the Directors and Solicitors alike is second to none. They are, without a doubt, leaders in their fields and I feel extremely lucky and fortunate to have been given the opportunity to learn from such experienced individuals.
In January 2018 I began class at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queens University, Belfast. Starting class was something which I must admit was initially a challenge. Having been out of education for the best part of 5 years and working full time during that period, I had got out of the studying mindset and the idea and routine of doing ‘homework’. That being said, it wasn’t too long before I had been fully re-immersed back into ‘student life’ and it is evident that trainees at the IPLS have mastered the skill of work-life balance.
One of the biggest challenges I found was the financial aspect of returning to university, especially as I had been so used to working full time for almost 5 years. I do believe that had I gone to the IPLS immediately following my undergraduate degree, I maybe wouldn’t have found it as difficult; although I wouldn’t have had the experience and knowledge I had before going to the IPLS at this point in my career, so I think there are positives and negatives no matter when you decide.
I commence my final term in class at the end of September 2018 and my final exams finish in the middle of December 2018. Following that, I then have a further 6 months training in the office where I will be working in the corporate team before graduating from the IPLS in summer 2019.
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