For many, graduating from University is a long-awaited milestone. Having secured my traineeship, with Blackadders LLP, two years in advance I graduated with over a year to ‘spare’ before starting my traineeship. For the past eleven months, I have been lucky enough to work as a receptionist at Blackadders who I am going to train with. As my time on reception is nearing an end, now feels like the perfect time to reflect on what I have learned.
“It all depends on how you look at things’ Carl Jung.
1. Communication is everything…
The professional communication class on the Diploma shed some light on the importance of good interpersonal skills. However, no textbook or lecture can compare to being on the ‘front line’ (as I’ve heard it called) day-to-day. From trainees and solicitors to mailmen and partners I have become increasingly aware of the need for excellent communication for success in any and every department. From booking meeting rooms and managing clients expectations to networking and interacting with colleagues. Electronically or verbally, effective communication is imperative.
2. Adapt quickly…
As a child, I was taught about ‘the four P’s’. Pitch, pace, pause and projection. Learning to adapt these “P’s” dependant on each client and altering depending on their needs is, in my opinion, a very underrated skill. Each client is different, as are their wants and needs. Being open-minded and understanding whilst thinking on your feet and adapting to meet each client’s needs is a skill in itself.
3. Getting to know you…
Clients, colleagues, policies and preferences. The past eleven months working on reception gave me the opportunity to become familiar with each of these. Not only has it been invaluable to watch and learn from colleagues interactions every day with clients but also to observe networking colleague to colleague and with business contacts. Although there are many aspects of the firm I am yet to experience, I feel that reception has given me a head start in terms of many aspects from data protection and anti-money laundering to clean desk policies and managing meeting rooms.
4. Never forget to smile…
Is a blog ever complete without a song lyric? A song from ‘Annie’, ‘you’re never fully dressed without a smile’ is very apt for life on the front desk. As cheesy as it sounds Forbes Business recently said that “a smile is much more than just an expression”. They refer to smiling as an attitude and an invitation. I agree. As strange as it sounds, even a nonvisual smile on the telephone is incredibly important and very apparent in the tone of voice.
I feel very grateful to have worked at the front desk. It has allowed me to experience the daily life of a law firm in an incredibly practical and insightful way. I cannot recommend enough to anyone who has ‘spare’ time before commencing their training contract or for anyone who is applying for training contracts to actively seek work within the legal industry. Starting my career at Blackadder’s with such an experienced and supportive front office team has provided me with a fantastic opportunity to see things from the perspective of reception in a practical way. I thoroughly look forward to taking the next steps in my legal career with Blackadders LLP.
For more information about Traineeships at Blackadders LLP please visit our careers page.
Receptionist (soon to be Trainee Solicitor),