The right support, and always asking why – Anisa Khan gives us her perspective as a trainee in the private client department at TSP, working with Fiona Ashworth.

I think one of the most common misconceptions that arise when you learn something new is to be a sponge, to absorb everything. Although this is a great thing to do in theory, it’s not always practical. It’s all well and good to take everything in, but to become a well-rounded and competent solicitor it is important to understand the why. Why does Fiona, who has 24 years of experience, advise a client to do something in a certain way and why are certain words used when we are drafting a document and why do we show up in a particular manner in different settings.

The question of why, has been a common theme within my first seat in Private Client. A question which as a child you may have asked a lot, but as an adult, for reasons beyond my understanding, we can feel embarrassed to ask too many times. However, having the right supervisor and colleagues who are willing to answer these questions and point you in the direction of any legislation or materials which will help you, is so important. This is how we learn and thankfully, I have been placed into a nurturing environment for my training. Books have been provided to me, as well as access to webinars, alongside being able to raise any queries I may have, with all levels of staff member, at any time. This  has assisted me to continue to grow my understanding, not only in matters of Private Client but within the legal sector itself.

For example, sometimes, something as simple as a single word may change the legal definition or the purpose of a document. Language, in itself being such an integral part of life as a legal professional. From the way we interact with clients, colleagues and third parties, to how we take notes and quantify our advice, to reflecting client instructions into documents. Language seems to have a deeper significance in our corner of the world, not only in order to avoid any of those dreaded negligence claims, but on a wider scale than this, absorbing and regurgitating advice, simply does not cut it and understanding the law is how an expert like Fiona is able to advise on a range of complex matters and apply her advice on a case to case basis. As a trainee, I may not always understand the mechanisms behind said advice, especially where it is complex and multifaceted but being able to discuss it with my supervisor and have exposure to these meetings and to tune into an individual’s intuition as a solicitor, is not only something I thoroughly enjoy, but also something which is invaluable to my growth within any given seat.

In summary, as Thomas Edison once put it “A ‘genius’ is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.” Anyone can work, but to be successful and excel, you will need to take steps to truly understand the mechanisms behind anything you do. So show up as a person, a student, a trainee and ask your questions, because although sponges do a lot of absorbing, they quite frankly, don’t do a lot of learning.