Bird & Bird
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University: London School of Economics
Year of qualification: 2017
What attracted you to a career in law?
Various periods of work experience within the legal profession made me realise that becoming a solicitor was the appropriate choice for me. Through these placements I was provided with a thorough understanding of the intellectual challenge and variety of work that a lawyer faces on a daily basis.
Why solicitor not barrister?
Though I was impressed by the rhetorical skill required by leading barristers, I felt less drawn to the more solitary nature of the barristers’ profession. As a negotiator and team player, the fast-paced and team-oriented work of a solicitor seemed much more appealing. Moreover, I was attracted to the interesting career prospects and clarity in career progression, as well as the opportunity to specialise in a particular area of law and still work in a broad commercial field.
How did you decide which firms to apply to?
I read online law publications and attended university law fairs, which was useful to understand the expertise of various firms. Law fairs were particularly useful as they give you a much better impression of the firm, the people and the work that they do, and provide you with the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
How much work experience did you do? Why is it so important?
Throughout school and university I undertook many work placements at smaller law firms both regionally and in London as well as in other industries. It's important to have varied work experience as it shows that you can adapt and transfer your skills to the relevant situation.
I also completed three vacation schemes in my final year of university, at which point I secured a training contract. In my experience, vacation schemes are extremely important for securing a job as they give both you and the firm a chance to get to know each other over the course of a week or so.
What do you think made your application successful?
Taking part in a vacation scheme allowed me to demonstrate the skills and interpersonal qualities I had to offer. The benefit of a vacation scheme is that you are able to demonstrate these skills during both the time spent in a particular department and the interviews/assessment tasks.
Which departments did you train in?
Please discuss a specific deal/case that you were involved with, outlining your role in the matter.
While in my second seat in dispute resolution I worked on the high-profile case of PAG v RBS (which has featured in The Lawyer's ‘Top 20 Cases to watch in 2016’) regarding, among other things, LIBOR rigging. As well as assisting during the 10-week trial, I also helped with the production of trial/counsel bundles, management of the online trial bundle, initial drafts of letters and various pieces of research – all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.
How does the qualification process work at the firm?
During your training contract, you have regular meetings with the graduate recruitment team to discuss your seats and initial thoughts about where you would like to qualify. Towards the end of your third seat, you have a formal meeting with the head of graduate recruitment to discuss your preferences for qualification. Leading up to the end of your fourth seat, you have further discussions about your preferences and the process is finalised during your final seat.
You meet with heads of group, the training principal and the head of graduate recruitment during the qualification process to discuss the entirety of your training contract. You are then notified by the training principal and head of graduate recruitment if you have been successful in securing a position.
What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?
Supervisors and other members of the team understand that trainees have little/no legal experience and do not expect you to know everything on day one. They are there to help, support and advise you during your training contract.
Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?
I qualified into the commercial team at Bird & Bird where we predominantly deal with business-to-business commercial agreements. The team is extremely large, with a wide variety of sub-groups and sectors. As a result there is no typical day as we work on a variety of deals that could involve energy, franchising, retail or technology clients – each bringing with them their own idiosyncrasies.
However, all the work is transactional, so it involves drafting and commenting on documents, negotiating with the other side, and helping to get the deal completed.
Please discuss a current/recent specific deal/case, outlining your role in the matter.
Recently I assisted in restructuring an international retailers' franchise agreement for expansion into Indonesia. This required splitting the franchise agreement into three separate agreements and drafting a deed of termination for the original franchise agreement. I also had the opportunity to have a lot of client contact during this deal as I often had calls with the clients and attended 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 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, from trainees through to senior associates. As a trainee I assisted with client pitch documents, attended networking events and evening seminars. The firm also organises and encourages us to attend social and networking events to build our internal network, which is just as important as your external network.
What makes your firm stand out from the rest?
The firm’s culture is the factor that distinguishes Bird & Bird from other law firms – everyone in the firm, from the trainees up to the partners, is approachable and friendly. Even more unique is that this supportive culture is coupled with high-profile, deadline driven transactions. This highly sociable and friendly environment is somewhat rare within such a large, City law firm.
What advice do you have for budding solicitors who are contemplating a career in law?
It is really important to find a firm that suits you and your interests. Once you have thought about what you are looking in a firm (for example type of work, size or culture) do as much research as possible to try to find the right firm. Researching firms, attending open days and vacation schemes all help you to decide which firm is right for you.
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