THE (NOT SO) LONELY LITIGATOR’S CLUB 18: CORI McKEOWN: THE TRAINEE SOLICITOR’S TALE

Our club clearly needs a wide range of members.  We have had a pupil barrister join and now we have a trainee solicitor.  I wanted some insight into the problems of just starting off in your career and then having to cope with lockdown. Cori McKeown is a trainee with Irwin Mitchell in Birmingham, but currently resident in Manchester.  Cori’s contribution shows, among other things, that employers should never underestimate the importance of the office coffee machine…

1) Where are you working from now?

Back home in Manchester, I did not like the idea of isolating in a City Centre!

2) What has been most difficult about working remotely?

As a trainee you tend to be very active with business development activities and there are lots of social and networking events weekly that we usually get involved with. Meeting other trainees from other firms and mixing with other young professionals is a fun part of the role and this unfortunately cannot happen at the moment.

Not seeing the other trainees everyday has also been difficult as my cohort are a close group and we all support one another and we usually spend a quite a lot of time together in and out of the office.

3) What has been your biggest technical challenge?

The initial transition to using the remote platform on a personal laptop was difficult. There were a few teething problems when lots of users were accessing the system which made it near impossible to access the system at peak times.

4) Is there anything (work wise) that you wish you had with you?

I wish I had two screens and I really miss the office coffee machine!

5) What has been the most helpful thing you’ve learned?

I think the hardest part about working from home is the lack of structure and setting boundaries can be quite difficult (especially with the fridge being so close!). For me, having a dedicated work space and a set morning routine has been key and I have learned that getting up and getting ready for the day before starting work has helped me massively with motivation for the day as it gives me that “going to work” feeling .

6) Do you think this is going to change the way you work in the future?

Definitely! I am fortunate to work for a firm that encourages agile and flexible working but previously as a trainee, I did not tend to take advantage of this as I felt that I needed to be in the office to learn. When lockdown measures were put in place I had only recently moved seats in to a new department and team. I worried that I would struggle away from the office when in fact, I have still learned just the same as I would in the office and have been supported by my team all the same just virtually.

7) What is the first thing you are going to do when you are out of lockdown?

Visit all of my friends and family and eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner.