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Event summary: LawCareersNetLIVE Virtual 2021 day one

updated on 13 January 2022

Reading time: 11 minutes

For those who wish to pursue a career in law, the LawCareersNetLIVE conferences are something you should consider attending. They are an incredible opportunity to hear from and speak to different law firms to gain personal insights that are not otherwise available through other platforms.

This year, the conferences were held in Manchester, London, and virtually. I was fortunate to have been accepted onto the virtual conference which took place on the afternoons of Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8 December 2021. To give you an idea of what you can expect from the conference, this article outlines what this year’s virtual conference consisted of.

The sponsors and law firms of LawCareersNetLIVE Virtual were:

What is LawCareersNetLIVE Virtual 2021?

LawCareersNetLIVE Virtual 2021 was an incredible opportunity to directly hear from and network with Nottingham Law School alongside trainees, partners, and the graduate recruitment team from a number of law firms.

Before attending the conferences, delegates were able to register to attend one workshop each day which allowed us to gain more insight into specific areas or law firms we were particularly interested in. The workshops were extremely interactive, and we were also placed into breakout rooms on Zoom so that we could work together with other delegates to complete the given tasks.  

The options for day one were:

  • Workshop: Future of work – Osborne Clarke;
  • Workshop: A day in the life of an environment and energy lawyer – Pinsent Masons;
  • Workshop: Commercial disputes – RPC; or
  • Workshop: Changing the future of law one innovation at a time – TLT.

The options for day two were:

  • Workshop: Family law, from initial instruction to final hearing – Burges Salmon;
  • Workshop: Private equity and Private funds – Debevoise & Plimpton; or
  • Workshop: Sports law, regulatory disputes – Mills & Reeve.

What did the 2021 conference consist of?

Day one: Tuesday 7 December 2021


First, delegates had the chance to network with sponsors and law firms of their choosing. These networking sessions were conducted through Zoom. During the first networking opportunity, I spoke to Harriet Parfitt and Danielle Futcher from TLT, a law firm that was named Law Firm of the Year at The Lawyer Awards 2021.

I found out that as a TLT trainee you will be provided with a high level of responsibility from the start of your career and that the firm is truly invested in your growth. As the pandemic was difficult for many, TLT put a genuine focus on the mental health and wellbeing of everyone at the firm.  

Welcome and introduction: insight into working at a commercial law firm

Keynote speaker: Abigail Hadfield, partner in the restructuring and insolvency team at TLT

Abigail provided an insight into her career path where she was firstly in the audit and accounting sector before she later realised that this was not her area of interest.

Abigail is now a partner at TLT in the restructuring and insolvency team. Her work involves acting for lenders through advising on their rights and options, helping to navigate difficult periods of trading, and handling loan portfolio transactions.

Abigail emphasised that if you are pursuing a career in law, you will be continuously learning and developing throughout your career. She then went onto talking about the pandemic and whether individuals have been fitting their work around their life or fitting their life around their work.

As a result of the pandemic, the focus is now on whether law firms will keep a flexible model, not only for individuals at the firm, but also for their clients. As people have been able to see the impact of hybrid working, they would expect to see these adaptions in the near future.

Question time: the law firm as a business

During this session, the panellists addressed:

  • the key issues affecting law firms in 2022;
  • how law firms operate;
  • generalisations and categories of law firms;
  • how to identify the competitors of law firms;
  • understanding the needs of your clients;
  • what attributes make a good commercial lawyer;
  • client demand; and
  • how the pandemic has impacted law firms and will continue to impact law firms in the future.    

The panellists for this session were:

  • Patrick Taylor, partner at Debevoise & Plimpton;
  • Alexandra Gower, partner at Osborne Clarke;
  • Audrey Ferrie, legal director at Pinsent Masons; and
  • Abigail Hadfield, partner at TLT.

How law firms operate

Time has been emphasised as a key point of focus for law firms in relation to the service being provided to their clients as this determines how fees are measured against how long a piece of work has taken to complete and whether it is worth the amount of time that has been taken.

It is important to understand and differentiate between fixed share partners and equity partners:

  • Fixed share partners are contractual owners in the business and are entitled to a fixed income through the profits of a business.
  • Equity partners are not entitled to a fixed amount but will share a percentage of the profits of the business. They are required to deal with the business’ profits, losses and risks.

Law firms must also react to any changes in market conditions, and “if they don’t, they will get left behind”. They must become more involved in being sector focused and understand the pressures of their clients’ businesses.

By understanding the future of the legal market, lawyers will be able to truly understand what their clients want and successfully meet the needs of each client.

Generalisation and categories

Law firms can be categorised into the following:

  • international
  • US
  • magic circle
  • silver circle
  • national ; and
  • regional.

It is important to distinguish where you want to be working in the future, why you want to be working there and heavily focusing on what interests you personally rather than simply applying to law firms that offer the highest salaries or have the biggest offices.

I wanted to add some personal advice for those who are going to be making applications in the future. In your applications, if you are expressing an interest in a certain topic, you will be asked about this at a later stage in the application process.

Make sure you are not writing answers that may sound good to the firm as they will see through this if you are unable to go into more detail about what you have previously spoken about in your written application.

You must tailor your application so it is clear why you want to work for a particular law firm and not simply copying information from the website or writing information that is generic and can be applied to every law firm.

When researching law firms, read into the sectors they work in, whether the firm works within areas you are genuinely interested in and what interests you about those areas. Think about what type of lawyer you want to be, the firms’ location, its trainee intake and whether you want to work within a smaller team or larger team, and whether there is anything else about the firm that personally appeals to you.

What makes a good commercial lawyer?

Think about the question ‘what?’

As much as it is important to have an up-to-date understanding of the recent news topics, it is just as important to demonstrate that you can understand your clients. In order to do this, you must ask yourself what is important to the client and what does the client care about?

Not only will this allow your clients to acknowledge you care about their needs, but it will also allow you to develop this understanding into a commercial perspective.

Client demand

Clients are becoming more demanding due to the increase in competition. Law firms that have the best talent will attract more clients and increases revenue in comparison to others. Not only is it important to understand the legal market, but it is also important to understand the business objectives of each client and think ahead to understand what could impact your clients in the future.

Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) is becoming increasingly important for clients. They will ask what law firms are doing to demonstrate how they are truly invested in protecting the environment and whether they have a genuine focus on sustainability, how they are doing the right thing for the community and how they are addressing concerns such as diversity in the workplace.

Pandemic and law firms

Hybrid and flexible working have become heavily emphasised in the workplace. Law firms have begun adapting to these changes by using technology to communicate more effectively which has resulted in work being completed more promptly in comparison to before.

Those working within litigation have been able to deliver hearings and cross-examine witnesses virtually. As individuals have become invested in more technology as a result of the pandemic, it is a known factor that the demand for hybrid working and even virtual hearings will continue to increase in the future.


Delegates were provided with another opportunity to network, and I was able to hear from Rory Graham and Megan Grew, who are both trainees at RPC. They explained that it was the culture of RPC that attracted them to the firm. Plus, the firm has a small trainee intake in comparison to other law firms so you will not feel “lost in the numbers”.

They also emphasised that the partners are approachable and keen to get trainees involved in as much as possible. Throughout the pandemic, RPC was extremely supportive and flexible and are continuing to allow hybrid working.  

RPC: commercial disputes workshop

The firm representatives for the RPC commercial disputes workshop were:

  • Dan Wyatt, partner;
  • Lauren Paterson, trainee solicitor; and
  • Adam Williamson, trainee solicitor.

First, we heard from Dan Wyatt, a partner in the commercial disputes team, who provided detailed insights into RPC as a law firm and specifically the commercial department. RPC is a full-service law firm with offices in London, Bristol, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Working within commercial is extremely broad and ranges from working on matters relating to disputes alongside MIPTOC (media, intellectual property, technology, outsourcing and commercial contracts) that provide opportunities to work with high-profile clients.

The commercial team at RPC has significantly grown throughout the pandemic and the workload in commercial disputes is intense as you are involved in high-quality work which shows how the firm is truly great for career progression and incredible opportunities.  

The firm representatives then introduced commercial disputes – where the firm is said to be “conflict free at RPC”.

The interactive section of the workshop allowed delegates to learn about freezing injunctions and participate in a group exercise that provided insights into the work a lawyer in the commercial disputes team could be involved in.

This was conducted through a case study where we were put into different breakout rooms on Zoom, and required to work with other delegates to present our discussion in the main room. Finally, the trainees shared their experiences of trainee life at RPC so far.

There are five pillars of work at RPC:

  • insurance,
  • technology and media;
  • retail clients;
  • commercial and financial disputes; and
  • regulatory.

Trainees are provided with seat options within commercial and insurance with possible secondments to Singapore and Hong Kong, alongside client secondments. If you are working in the Bristol office, the work will be insurance based.

RPC is said to have a unique culture where you are encouraged to bring your true self and show your true personality. The partners at RPC truly care about the trainees and how they are getting on, both in their personal life and professional life.

“If you feel like you are drowning, you are supported and encouraged to raise this” and the work-life balance at RPC is said to be better in comparison to other law firms that may require you to work extremely late nights on a regular basis.

Throughout your training you will have the support of two supervisors, a trainee buddy, a mentoring programme, a training principal, secretaries and genuinely everyone at the firm.

Some exciting extras that were spoken about include the following:

  • @lifeinalawfirm – an Instagram and Twitter page created by RPC trainees.
  • RPC has a blog where trainees can write about areas that they are interested in.
  • Socials outside of the firm that are organised by the trainees.
  • Quiz nights and Christmas parties within the firm (when it’s safe to do so).

Read about day two of the LawCareers.NetLIVE event.

Many thanks to Sharan Panesar (she/her) for writing this detailed summary! Sharan graduated with her Law LLB degree in 2019 and completed the LLM in Legal Practice in 2021.