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Recording your Trainee diary

15 June 2023

While day-to-day life as a Trainee mostly involves developing your legal skills and learning more about your department, it is underpinned by some very key admin tasks. Even though completing a training diary likely doesn’t feature in anyone’s rose-tinted daydreams of life as a Trainee Solicitor, keeping it up to date is vital to your qualification process.

As a Trainee, it can often feel like there are a million things on your plate: How can I best learn about this area? Where should I be looking to deepen my knowledge? Which areas of law are most exciting to me? And the most omnipresent question of all: where do I want to qualify? The ongoing internal monologue and the more obvious opportunities for development are very understandable distractions from tasks like the Trainee diary, which can sometimes feel less important than supporting qualified colleagues with client work.

But in truth, the Trainee diary is a vital part of recording your journey to qualification. Here are my top tips for making sure you stay on top of your work.

1. Diarise, diarise, diarise…

The easiest way to make sure that your Trainee diary stays at the front of your mind is to make it impossible to forget. Rumour has it that the most straightforward route to Trainee diary best practice is to set aside half an hour per week at a time when you feel most energised.

2. …and execute!

Don’t snooze that Outlook reminder! When it pops up on your screen, subject to anything urgent or pressing, just do it. And if you really have to snooze it, make sure to reschedule it for later in the day so that the outstanding entries don’t accumulate.

3. But if that’s not working…

That being said, there’s no one size fits all approach. Everyone has different ways of working, and if the diarise and execute approach doesn’t work for you, take the time to reflect on what does. Would you rather commit yourself to a pattern of making an entry whenever you first attempt to draft a new kind of agreement or sit in on a call on a new area of law? Have an honest think about what works for you – and stick with it.

4. If things get dicey… use your time recording app.

Realistically, no one is going to hit their diary entry targets every single week of their Training Contract. Sometimes even the most conscientious Trainees have their attention swept away by an urgent due diligence project or a looming deadline. One of my top memory-jogging tips is to use your time recording software as a reminder of everything that you have done recently. Depending on how thorough your narratives are, it should function as a helpful refresher of the skills you have developed through your support with client work and/or attending training sessions.

5. Befriend the diary system

Lastly, the best thing you can really do (if necessary) is rebrand your perception of the system. While it might not be the most exciting Trainee task, it is one of the most important ones when it comes to qualification. When you think about it, it can also provide you with a much-needed forum to pause and reflect on your achievements and any key areas of past, present and future development – which, in a role that can often feel quite fast-paced, is likely something we could all do with a little bit more of.

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