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Year of qualification: 2018
Department: London markets and global risk
What attracted you to a career in law?
I've always enjoyed analysing words and numbers. Lawyers (especially in litigation) often have to analyse evidence/law and create strategies from that analysis, which sounded like a great job to me.
Why solicitor not barrister?
The prospect of being self-employed doesn’t appeal to me. I understand why some people might get a sense of freedom from it but it certainly isn’t for me.
How did you decide which firms to apply to?
I spent a lot of time researching firms but my main focus was law fairs – there are quite a few taking place virtually this year. I made sure I spoke to as many lawyers as possible and used these interactions to narrow down my options based on the firms that left the best impression on me before doing my online research.
How much work experience had you had? Why is it so important?
I completed one vacation scheme and one mini-pupillage. It was really helpful to be in the environment as it helped me to pick up soft skills, which you can develop in both legal and non-legal settings.
It‘s difficult to secure legal work experience when you’re young so all kinds of experience can be important to your journey – I believe it’s mainly about the soft skills at that stage.
What do you think made your application successful?
I always try to be unique. I spent long nights in the library doing lots of research. I was always looking for something that would help me to stand out. I would ask myself whether there was anything at the firm that resonated with me – and perhaps not with other candidates – that I could emphasise.
Which departments did you train in?
When I joined DWF it was a six-seat training contract but we switched to four seats halfway through, so I completed five seats altogether, which were professional indemnity, real estate, a client secondment, commercial, and a seat with the team I qualified into – London markets and global risk.
What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?
It’s difficult to look back and think “I wish I’d known that,” because at the training contract stage you’re trying to keep an open mind and be learning in every situation. Perhaps one thing might be that I wish I'd brushed up on my IT knowledge before starting as trainees are inevitably the first port of call if the actual IT staff are unavailable!
Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?
So far I have done mainly defence work; either in the context of defending a client who is facing a claim or acting for an insurer or reinsurer who’s disputing cover. Those are the main two scenarios I deal with but the subject matter of these disputes varies greatly. For example, I’ve been involved in a fair number of covid-19-related disputes, some disputes relating to big sporting events getting cancelled and some disputes relating to large international energy projects gone wrong.
What do you most/least enjoy about your career and why?
I most enjoy looking at a case, analysing the evidence, thinking of strategies and adapting them as a case unfolds – being on the defence side means you always need to react to what’s happening from the other side.
I least enjoy the administrative side to my role. I of course understand why we must do it but I’m not sure anyone particularly enjoys that aspect as it can take away from the fun tasks.
How involved are you with business development and promoting the firm?
I try to do my fair share. My team and the firm in general will back you if you have an idea. For example, I have had a few ideas and after putting a plan together I received support from partners and financial support to get them off the ground.
What makes your firm stand out from the rest?
The firm is constantly evolving – for example, when I joined DWF it had only one international office but I knew that they had ambitious plans which came across at law fairs and during interviews. Now there are more than 20 international offices and DWF is also a listed company. The firm is always looking for new ways to do things and I really enjoy being part of this because it’s not a static environment.
My team has also doubled in size during the three years that I’ve been here and we’ve added new areas of expertise, which has expanded the work that I’ve been able to do. It’s exciting to be part of a firm and a team that’s constantly growing and evolving.
DWF also does a lot in terms of diversity initiatives. I am British-born Chinese but I’ve never felt that this had any negative impact during my time at DWF. I was invited to take part in a diversity scheme, which involved having one-to-one discussions with someone on the board, which was great.
What advice do you have for budding solicitors who are contemplating a career in law?
There are many areas of law and practices often do very different jobs, so the skills required to run a corporate deal might be different to running a claim or drafting a contract.
If you’re considering a career in law, it’s important to think about the differences between practice areas. It’s easy to bunch law as just one thing but there are so many areas that you can go into. Different skills, personalities and backgrounds might thrive in different practices so don’t be put off if you don’t quite see yourself as Harvey Spector.
What is the wider culture like – eg, are there sports teams/trips out? Is there a LGBT group, women’s group etc?
There are all types of groups at DWF. I set up and run the football team in the London office – I pitched the idea and received some money to run with it, and eventually got it off the ground. The firm’s netball team came about in a similar way. There are several informal clubs, including lunchtime table tennis. We also have a young professionals’ network and a women’s group. I attend some of the diversity discussions as well – there are often some really interesting talks, one of which focused on men’s health and toxic masculinity.
There are also a lot of socials, with our London office being a great location at the top of The Walkie Talkie building.
Describe the firm in three words.
Progressive, evolving and agile.
What’s been the highlight of the last month at the firm?
Now that colleagues and clients are back in the city it’s possible to do in-person client events. One highlight has been the recent football match I set up against an insurer client. We got soundly beaten but everyone had a great time! I was also an assessor at some of the recent trainee assessment centres. I went through a similar process at the firm six years ago and it was great to see all the fresh candidates taking on the challenges with enthusiasm and skill!
What’s the biggest opportunity you’ve been given since joining the firm?
The biggest opportunity I’ve had was probably going on my client secondment to one of the world's biggest companies. It was a completely different environment and such an incredible experience.
What’re you reading at the moment?
I tend to listen to audio books. The most recent one I listened to was Mike Tyson’s autobiography. While his life is a lot more exciting than mine, he did also get into a lot of trouble, so I don’t envy him too much.