Bird & Bird
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University: University College London
Year of qualification: 2009
What attracted you to a career in law?
Prior to embarking on a legal career, I worked as a doctor in the National Health Service (NHS) in the South of England. After several years of working in the NHS, I decided that I wanted to move into a career in law. A career in law meant that I could work in a diverse range of areas in a stimulating, dynamic and international environment. Having worked as a doctor, I also wanted to continue pursuing a career that involved interaction with people.
Why solicitor not barrister?
When I was looking at changing from medicine to law, I did initially think about becoming a barrister. However, I soon realised that I really wanted to be part of an international organisation where I could work and build good relationships within a team.
How did you decide which firms to apply to?
Due to my background in medicine, I initially thought that I wanted to forge a career in intellectual property (IP). I therefore applied to firms that had a strong reputation in life sciences and IP. Having had an international upbringing, I was very keen to work in a firm that had an established international presence.
How much work experience did you do? Why is it so important?
I did not actually do a vacation scheme. However, having worked in the NHS for several years, I did have a significant amount of work experience. I believe that work experience is extremely useful as it allows you to develop skills and gain experiences that will both further your professional and personal development.
I found that many of the skills and experiences that I gained while working as a doctor stood me in good stead when starting out in my career in law. For example, skills such as time management, prioritisation of tasks and interpersonal skills were all qualities that I had developed during my time working in the NHS. These are all extremely relevant to law.
What do you think made your application successful?
Prior to starting my training contract applications, I spent a lot of time researching law firms and deciding what was important to me in a firm. I therefore think that I had a good understanding about why I wanted to join Bird & Bird.
I also realised that my application would be slightly different from other candidates (as I was moving careers), so I really focused on why I wanted to change to a career in law as well as the skills and qualities that I could bring to a training contract.
Which departments did you train in?
Banking, IP, corporate and commercial.
Please discuss a specific deal/case that you were involved with, outlining your role in the matter.
While I was a trainee, I worked on numerous venture capital deals. My role as a trainee generally involved assisting with the ancillary documents including board minutes and resolutions, disclosure letters and share certificates.
How does the qualification process work at the firm?
During your training contract, you have regular meetings with the graduate recruitment team. Towards the end of your third seat, you have a formal meeting with the head of graduate recruitment to discuss your preferences which are then discussed again and finalised during your final seat.
Once you have indicated your preference(s), most people will then usually have an informal discussion with the head(s) of department where they have shown an interest.
There is then a final meeting with the training principal and the graduate recruitment team to discuss your training contract as a whole and the training principal and graduate recruitment will then let you know whether you have secured a position.
What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?
The training contract is very much a learning process and is a journey of development both professionally and personally.
Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?
The corporate department deals with a wide range of matters which, in turn, provides you with experience across many different aspects of corporate law. For example, you could be working on an M&A deal for part of the day. This might involve overseeing the disclosure process, preparing the disclosure letter, attending client meetings and drafting any ancillary documents. The next part of your day may involve working on a venture capital matter. This might involve drafting subscription letters, subscription and shareholders' agreements, new articles of association for the company as well as ancillary documents. You may also get involved in some public company work – for example, assisting with the listing of a company.
Please discuss a current/recent specific deal/case, outlining your role in the matter.
While I was a trainee, I worked on a wide range of matters, including several venture capital deals. My role as a trainee generally involved assisting with the ancillary documents including board minutes and resolutions, disclosure letters and share certificates. I also had the opportunity to have a lot of client contact during these deals as I often had calls with the clients and was also able to attend some client meetings.
What do you most/least enjoy about your career and why?
I really enjoy building and developing relationships with clients and helping those clients achieve their goals. It is a great feeling when everything has come together and completed, as all the hard work has paid off.
However, the hours can be somewhat unpredictable and so it can be hard to plan things in advance.
How involved are you with business development and promoting the firm?
The firm encourages everyone to become involved in business development, even at trainee level. While I was a trainee, I was even lucky enough to assist with several client pitches.
The firm also organises and encourages us to attend social and networking events both to build our internal and external network.
What makes your firm stand out from the rest?
Bird & Bird also has a very collaborative and supportive culture. Everyone in the firm, from the trainees up to the partners, is approachable and friendly. Bird & Bird also fosters a culture where both your professional and personal development are strongly valued and encouraged.
The quality of the clients is very high, especially in the tech and telecoms sector. We also often get involved with start-ups, so it is great to be able to continue a relationship with them as they grow and develop.
What advice do you have for budding solicitors who are contemplating a career in law?
As mentioned above, it is really important to think about what it is that you are looking for in a firm (e.g. international presence, size of trainee intake, sector focus etc.). Once you know what it is important to you, you should target those firms that have those qualities. Remember, it is important to find a firm that is the right fit for you.
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