Future Lawyer Blog

Legal Cheek’s Life as a Trainee with Reed Smith: Review

Emily is an LPC Student at the City Law School, a member of the Lawbore Journalist team and an aspiring solicitor.

The recent virtual Reed Smith event organised by Legal Cheek, provided the opportunity for me to learn about life as a legal trainee, as well as the culture surrounding the law firm.

The event focused on an introduction to the law firm with their graduate recruitment manager, Holly Allen and two trainees. Subsequently, the event provided the opportunity of an insight into the pro bono department of the firm.

Introduction to the firm

Reed Smith is certainly a global law firm, with 30 offices spanning across four global regions. The large number of practices areas has in many ways been due to the global presence Reed Smith possesses. There is an obvious continual striving within the firm to expand into areas in which true value can be added.

What is commercial awareness?

Commercial awareness is a huge buzzword while job-searching within the legal industry, and an area which law students must continuously develop. The meaning of commercial awareness was therefore considered by the Reed Smith graduate recruiter.

To put it simply, commercial awareness is staying up to date with daily developments in business and the commercial world. It is so valuable to understand the link between industries, cities and regions, in order to be in a position to understand the client’s demands.

Life as a trainee panel

Subsequently, the event focused on life as a trainee. As part of the panel, we were joined by two trainees. Participants were able to learn about the firm, directly from Reed Smith’s own employees. Learning first-hand about the trainees’ experiences was so valuable. It was a great opportunity to hear about the beginning of their training contract, as both had begun in February 2020. The trainees answered a host of questions, and it was especially interesting to hear how as a firm Reed Smith continued to provide such strong support to the trainees, despite the shift to working from home.

For me, the panel with the trainees emphasised how truly varied life as a trainee is. There are unique challenges on a day to day basis, of which they are required to find solutions to. Both trainees shared important advice on the resilience required to be a trainee. They noted the value of asking for help from other members of the team where they needed to, and that those at all levels of the firm had been accommodating and supportive in this regard. The trainees felt that in order to develop their confidence and understanding, asking for guidance had been hugely important.

Pro bono Q&A

We were next joined by two members of the pro bono team. Pro bono work is a pivotal area within Reed Smith as firm, with last year’s statistics showing 74% of the team being involved. There are many opportunities to assist in pro bono support: giving advice to charities, access to justice, domestic violence advice, immigration and letters of advice to prisoners.

The pro bono team highlighted the value of the work providing the chance to give back to the community, in a manner affecting the lives of some many people. There has been an significantly increased demand for pro bono support sparked by the effects of COVID on so many aspects of people’s lives. The value of pro bono has never been clearer.

It was noted that pro bono work can be extremely beneficial for legal trainees, providing an excellent way in which to develop interpersonal client skills and empathy when dealing with highly sensitive situations. It was interesting to hear the opportunity in the training contract for trainees to therefore have a seat in the pro bono department, and for the opportunity for secondments in pro bono work.


Reed Smith’s life as a trainee event provided a fantastic insight into the life of legal trainees. It was a great opportunity as well to learn more about the culture of the law firm and the values they stand for. Many thanks to all those involved in the running of such a successful event.

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