Training Contracts – What you need to know



rhw are well known for providing excellent experience, training and a huge step up for those looking to launch their legal careers via our training contract route.

We don’t molly-coddle successful candidates but instead expect them to use their initiative, think for themselves and contribute as a full team member. In return, rhw offer a fully immersive training experience across all the legal practice areas we provide to the public.

Want to know more? Please read the following accounts from two of our more recent trainees.

Application and Selection Process

PLEASE NOTE. We are not expecting to open the trainee selection process until Spring 2019. Please do check back here late in 2018  for further updates. Please do not send in a speculative CV before we open the process as it is guaranteed to get lost or forgotten about due to the number of emails we receive.

The process will involve the completion of an application form and if selected, then an initial interview, presentation and test (details of which will be made known at the time).

What to expect as an rhw trainee solicitor

James Stenning – NQ

Having had my dream of becoming a professional footballer snatched away from me (dodgy knees!) I completed my law degree, jumped at the chance to complete the LPC and start a training contract with rhw in January 2014.  Two years on, I qualified and I am now a solicitor working in our Corporate & Commercial Team.

My Training Contract…

Whilst training, I enjoyed working across a number of departments, including Employment, Dispute Resolution (with the odd Family matter thrown in for good measure!) Corporate & Commercial and Commercial Property.

I have had the chance to work alongside some highly experienced solicitors with varying backgrounds, each offering differing approaches to legal work, though all aimed towards achieving the best result for the client.

rhw, being a medium- sized law firm, has allowed for a large amount of client contact from an early stage.  As an rhw trainee solicitor, you are encouraged and guided to become a valuable member and fee earner for the firm, as opposed to simply providing additional admin support.  I was often given responsibilities for work on files, but in the knowledge that the open-door policy meant I could always ask questions and receive support when necessary.

The work during my training contract was often varied and whilst in contentious seats, I was regularly given the opportunity to attend court and often sit alongside Counsel, which provided for invaluable first-hand experience and learning opportunities.  Unlike many firms, rhw also offers legal advice in quite niche areas, such as the Dental and Care Sectors and I made the most of the opportunity to get involved in these areas with the attractive prospect of specialising in the future.

rhw places great emphasis on its fee earners getting out into the community to network, build relations and build profiles and so I was encouraged to attend and assist in organising networking events throughout my training contract.

And now…

As a qualified solicitor, day-to-day I advise individuals and corporates on starting up businesses, buying or selling interests in others, as well as advising clients on a range of commercial agreements and arrangements.  I am also part of our Dental and Care Sector Team, advising on Dental Practice and Care Home acquisitions.

There is still an open-door policy and I am continually being trained and supported in developing the early stages of my career.  Depending on the size or complexity of a project, I either work alone or within a team, and I often work with individuals in other departments where the project requires this; in particular, employment and commercial property.

There is a good work-life balance at rhw.  Yes, we get in early and stay late during busy periods, but I enjoy the work and so it’s really not a problem.

I regularly attend networking events and get involved with the firm’s marketing initiatives.  I have particularly enjoyed support from the firm in looking to build relations with sports clubs in recent months.

Outside of work…

Away from the office, I enjoy watching and partaking in sport, in particular Golf, Snooker and Football (when my knees allow it!).

I try to travel around a bit when I can during holidays.  I recently spent some time in Australia, working my way up the east coast.

2. Jack Lightburn – Year 1 Trainee

I joined rhw in October 2013 after completing the GDL and LPC at the University of Law, Guildford.  Prior to commencing my training contract in January 2016, my job role included file compliance reviews, credit control, preparation for Lexcel assessments and paralegal work (a ‘Jack of all trades’).  I am now in my second training seat working with the Commercial Property department, having recently finished my seat with the Family team.

rhw is a vibrant and friendly medium-sized law firm which prides itself on its reputation for excellent service and its strong rapport with clients.  rhw has diverse practice areas, covering almost everything apart from criminal, as well as expertise in niche sectors such as care homes and dental.  This was attractive to me as it provided a broad range of seat options to choose from as well as giving me the opportunity the gain experience in unusual areas of law.

One of the benefits of training at a medium-sized firm such as rhw is the level of client contact possible and the responsibility given from an early stage.  During my Family seat I was responsible for the day-to-day management of files, including being the primary liaison with clients and providing advice face-to-face.  This progressed from holding meetings with clients in our offices to giving an advice clinic at the Surrey Law Centre to eventually representing a client at court.  Whilst all of these experiences seemed daunting at first, and at times it felt as though I was being thrown in at the deep end, I was given plenty of support and guidance and my trainee principal ensured that I was thoroughly prepared.

My supervisors have been supportive and available to assist me when required, providing valuable feedback enabling me to learn and improve my overall approach.  It has been a privilege to work alongside such experienced solicitors who are experts in their field and their insight and advice have proved invaluable.  There is definitely an ‘open door’ policy when it comes to trainees and I have always felt comfortable asking for support.  That said, there is no ‘hand holding’ – trainees are expected to use their initiative to come up with answers and practical solutions on their own before asking for help.

rhw are committed to preparing trainees for life as a solicitor and trainees, in turn, are expected to learn and adapt quickly.  There is a real emphasis on time recording and taking responsibility for file management.  Running my own files (although supervised of course) has enabled me to be involved throughout the whole lifecycle of a matter, from initial enquiry through to file closure.  This has given me experience in all aspects of working on files, from providing legal advice to compliance and administrative matters, including ensuring we have valid I.D., billing clients and credit control.

Trainee solicitors are expected to attend networking events and take charge of their own business development, and support is given to enable them to market themselves and grow their profile in the local area whilst also promoting the firm.  Trainees are also encouraged to write blogs for the website and assist with the marketing initiatives of their departments, working in conjunction the Business Development Manager who is always open to new ideas.

rhw are active in the community and support a number of local charities such as Challengers, Oakleaf and Phyllis Tuckwell.  We raise money through a weekly ‘Dress-down Friday’ and also regularly take part in events organised by these charities.  I have recently been part of rhw teams which took part in the Challengers annual Golf Day and also their annual five-a-side football tournament: ‘The Challengers Cup’, which were both fantastic fun and excellent fundraisers.

Another benefit of working at rhw is the relaxed environment, which is unusual in a sector which has a reputation for pressure and stress.  Whilst staff are highly motivated and enthusiastic about work, there is a strong emphasis on having a good work-life balance and the working hours reflect this.  rhw are keen for staff to enjoy the social side, an area which I am heavily involved as a member of the Social Committee.  We hold monthly staff drinks with a different theme each time and regular intra-staff quizzes.  There are also seasonal social events; for our summer event this year we attended a production of a Much Ado About Nothing performed by the Guildford Shakespeare Company.

If you have any other questions, please email them to Bill Hatton

Email or call 01483 302000