University: Durham University
Year of qualification: September 2019
Department: Global loans
What attracted you to a career in law?
The academic rigour attracted me to the legal profession – I’ve always enjoyed academia and wanted a career that allows me to learn on the job.
Why solicitor not barrister?
As a solicitor, you’re working with clients and looking at the commercial objectives they’re trying to achieve and how you can contribute to that, whereas a barrister mostly does litigation work. The business-focused aspect of being a solicitor pushed me towards that side of the profession.
How did you decide which firms to apply to?
I shortlisted the law firms that I had an interest in and took things from there. I knew I couldn’t see myself at a US or boutique firm due to the culture and I thought working at an UK firm would allow me to thrive, especially at a firm with a small trainee intake. I also thought that a firm like Ashurst would offer me more responsibility which was really important to me.
How much work experience had you had? Why is it so important?
I had some work experience such as work shadowing but nothing too extensive or formal like vacation schemes. I also attended a few open days as a student to show firms I was interested in commercial law. Work experience is important to law firms because it’s not enough to just say you have a passion for law, you must be able to demonstrate it.
What do you think made your application successful?
The extracurriculars that I mentioned in my application made me stand out because it was alongside my academic credentials. Getting involved in extracurriculars shows resilience, good time management skills and the ability to juggle different commitments. I was involved in sports as a student which presented me as a well-rounded individual.
Which departments did you train in?
My first seat was in debt finance where I ended up qualifying, I also did seats in disputes resolution, tech and competition – I had a nice mix of corporate and disputes work. One of the perks of having a broad training contract is being able to explore different parts of your chosen law firms and picking up key skills from each department.
How does the qualification process work at the firm?
You have conversations during your training contracts about whether you’d like to qualify into a department or not. When you get to your third seat, these conversations become more concrete, and you eventually decide which practice area you want to qualify into.
What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?
Being proactive is key – it’s not enough to sit at your computer and wait for a partner to delegate tasks. Use your initiative to figure out what you could or should be doing on the case you’re working on. Being proactive will show off your good lawyer skills and it’s imperative to your professional development.
Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?
My area of expertise is in debt finance and my day-to-day work involves looking at deals, working for banks, looking at the transactions and deciding what needs to be pushed forward. I love debt finance because it’s very commercial and involves regular conversations with the client which can develop into a close relationship.
What makes your firm stand out from the rest?
It’s a genuinely friendly and supportive place to work. Everyone is encouraging and approachable, from support staff all the way to partner level. I know that I’m never alone because I have the support of my colleague.
What skills/strengths do you need to be a successful solicitor?
Time management, resilience and communication skills.
What advice do you have for budding solicitors who are contemplating a career in law?
Start looking for job vacancies but don’t close the door on any job opportunity. It helps to be a well-rounded individual because this complements the role of a good lawyer.
Is Ashurst involved in any diversity and inclusion initiatives?
Ashurst has a significant diverse and inclusion network, it’s called All are Ashurst, which I’m part of. We run events and raise awareness about different cultures and ethnicities. It’s nice working at a law firm with diverse staff members that celebrates differences.
I’m also involved in Access Ashurst which looks at broadening access to law for lower socio-economic backgrounds. Law has previously been a private area of business, but the City is changing the tide and Ashurst is part of that.
How often as a trainee were you communicating directly with clients (calls, attending meetings)?
I was regularly communicating with clients, which I found surprising at first. However, once you gain the trust of your supervisors, you realise you’re a trainee who must know how to communicate with clients over the phone and in person.
Once you’ve built a rapport with the clients you’re working for, you’ll be regularly going out for dinners and for lunch. Clients are the bread and butter and you’re the first port of call for most, who might not necessarily want to call a partner, so it’s important to be available.
What’s the biggest opportunity you’ve been given since joining the firm?
Going on secondment a year into qualifying as a solicitor. I was sent to a bank that we’d previously worked with to build and rekindle the relationship. This experience highlighted the importance of developing the business side of the business to mould you into a successful a banking lawyer.
What’s your signature dish?
Carbonara – my father calls it egg soup but I really like it!