#GradStories Sarah Holland, Trainee Solicitor, A&L Goodbody
What is your name, job title and employer?
My name is Sarah Holland and I’m a trainee solicitor at A&L Goodbody.
What are the main tasks you do in your job in a normal week?
A trainee can be asked to do a variety of jobs but the first thing to really get a good handle on is the practice area that you're working in and then the transactions specifically that you're working on so then when you are given a task you know where you slot in and what your specific role is in the bigger picture. You might be asked to do a piece of research that might be a question that a client has or a specific unique element of a transaction that your team wants you to look into and we're really lucky in A&L Goodbody, we have knowledge centre where there are a team of librarians and researchers that are great at helping us figure out those trickier questions. They have access to online journals and research and they're great at directing you towards the answer. They won't do the work for you but they're great at helping you to get to the answer and get there quickly.
What skills do you need to be successful in your role?
I think the first skill is probably quite obvious, but you really have to have a very strong legal knowledge. It's important when you're answering questions, whether it's to your team or your client to have a well-researched and well-informed legal position and that's about looking into research and legislation and then following on from that it's important to be quite motivated and your fellow team members will love when you're showing initiative and looking to get involved in the transaction. I think it's a good way to build up your relationships in your work environment as well. It's important to be quite organised. It can get very busy at times and it's good to be able to keep your workload managed and be organised and approach things in a logical manner. The other thing then that I find has really helped me throughout my training contract is to be a team player. Law firms depend on their teams working in sync together and that can be as broad as working well with your own team or in the broader department working well with legal firms that are also on the transaction and then working with your client so it's about everyone being on the same page so that the transaction can move as swiftly as possible
What do you love about your job?
There is quite a lot of variety in the job which is one part that I really enjoy. We have some very interesting and diverse international and Irish clients and it means that every day you're not just improving your legal and your professional skills, but you're getting to work on really unique transactions with other international law firms and it can be quite interesting, quite challenging but that's the part that I like ,that you're being stretched quite a bit daily. The other part then is I have a really great trainee group that I'm qualifying with in the firm and the firm pay for us to go on weekends away and to do activities together which is great because it's lovely to spend time with people that you're working with but to spend time with them outside the office as well. I have to say that every team I've been on have been particularly focused on you understanding and learning and feeling like you have someone to go to if you have questions or if you feel like you've too much work on and your partner is always someone that you can approach to chat through the workload that you've on and to make sure that you think you're developing as your seats progressing.
How did you get into your job?
I did law and history and then law in UCD and I'd heard about A&L Goodbody and they came onto the campus and I applied for the summer internship and for one month I was on a really brilliant litigation team. They were really generous with their time, they got me involved in the cases they had on and they really spent time helping me understand what was happening and I felt really involved. Tt gave me great insight into the firm, how it works and what it might have been like to be a trainee there, so I was delighted when I was offered the training contract.
What is the number one skill students should develop if interested in this career?
One skill that I think you can use in University and practice on that will really help you then as you go on in your career is the ability to problem-solve and looking at problems so that you can break it down into its smaller parts and then in those smaller parts find a solution for each. It's something that will help you in university and in college exams on problem questions but also it's something that solicitors use every day whether it's just responding to an email or responding to a bigger problem that a client has so it's great to practice that skill early on because it's something you'll be using for the future.