31 August 2023

We asked Jennifer and Connor, as recent joiners of Burges Salmon, about their experience, reflections and top tips for starting at a new firm.

Jennifer Mellor joined Burges Salmon in June 2023 as a Director in the Edinburgh office and works as part of the Funds and Financial Regulation team.

Connor Maunder is about to begin the second year of his legal apprenticeship. In this piece, he reflects on the countdown between receipt of A level results last year, to the start of his professional career with Burges Salmon in September 2022.

What advice do you have for anyone who is about to start a new job?

Connor: Don’t compare yourself to others. During my onboarding and training on I remember worrying whether the other apprentices also had concerns surrounding the significant change and adjustment. Looking back, this was utterly irrelevant! It is not an exaggeration to suggest quite literally everyone starting a new job, experienced or inexperienced, has the same first day, first week and perhaps first month nerves whether admitted or not! Before you start comparing your skillset, abilities and feelings to others, remind yourself that you achieved your position in the firm, and you are not expected to know everything immediately!

Jennifer: It’s always useful to arrive at a new job with an idea of what you want to achieve. At the same time, though, be flexible and ready to embrace opportunities; it takes time to settle in and get a feel for any new job, both in terms of the type of work that you’ll be doing and the colleagues with whom you’ll be working. Be prepared to work hard and listen and learn from others – your colleagues will have a wealth of experience to share.

What are your tip tips for the first day and the first week?

Connor: The first day fear factor. Everything is new. It is difficult and intimidating to enter a completely different environment and it often leads to overthinking simple decisions. I distinctly remember the nervousness of deciding my outfit and putting unnecessary emphasis on creating a perfect first impression. This is completely natural and expected but definitely not necessary. Although it is easy to believe first impressions are permanent, you will not always be the newest member of the team and the questions and mistakes during the early stages are kindly understood and quickly forgotten.

Jennifer: Don’t worry if the first few days don’t play out as you envisaged. There will be a lot of new systems and processes to learn which can feel overwhelming, but in no time at all you’ll be completely familiar with them (or know who to ask for help). You might be joining a team that is in the middle of a project or a completion, or you might be greeted by a pile of new work on arrival. Either way, stay calm and it will all start to settle down and make sense in a few days. The main thing – and it will always be appreciated by your new colleagues – is to be enthusiastic and willing to pitch in. Finally, never be afraid to ask questions.

As someone who has recently joined Burges Salmon – tell us about your experience of the onboarding process and your first impressions.

Connor: It is important to mention that the training and onboarding were designed to be helpful once beginning work, not as a memory test! It is impossible to remember everything from induction and training therefore, ease this worry by asking necessary questions, regardless of how silly or important they appear and then taking note of the response to rely on in the future. As you slowly become more confident, the tasks become more natural and almost like muscle memory. Equally, working in a law firm provides unique experiences every day, and therefore organised notes are helpful to build a knowledge bank.

Jennifer: The process was really smooth. The firm shared my induction and integration plan, in advance of joining, allowing me to meet lots of people throughout the business early on. A few months into the job, everyone has been very friendly and welcoming, and I have found the culture to be very collaborative and supportive.

If you could give one piece of advice to yourself, when you first joined a law firm, what would it be?

Connor: You are here through skill not luck. My single most important ‘top tip’ is to remember the effort and hard work which earnt you the role. The achievement of joining Burges Salmon is a result of your own skill and ability and therefore on difficult days where you may doubt yourself, remind yourself that you belong here, and you are capable. It is often difficult to step back and consider these feelings, almost like an imposter syndrome. However, if you recognise yourself feeling this way use the various support networks within Burges Salmon.

Jennifer: Introduce yourself to new colleagues and start to build your network. You can never underestimate the importance of having contacts across a number of departments and sectors of the firm.

To find out more about our apprenticeship opportunities, please visit our career pages here

To find out more about legal career opportunities at the firm, please visit our career pages here.

For more information on the firm’s approach to inclusion, please visit our career pages here.

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