University: Durham University
Year of qualification: 2020
Department: Employment, labour and equalities team
What attracted you to a career in law?
I knew I wanted to specialise in ‘something’, but it took me a while to work out what that ‘something’ was. I had a few revelations along the way. I did a few office jobs that were quite monotonous, so I realised that I’d need a job that challenges me and evolves. I also recognised that in my personal life I like being the person with all the answers. In the end law seemed like a natural fit.
Why solicitor not barrister?
I like the idea of taking time to review things and coming up with the right answer. At Gowling we have the opportunity to attend some tribunal hearings and represent the client, so advocacy is a skill I keep working on.
How did you decide which firms to apply to?
I didn’t want to go to London, but I still wanted to work for a big firm with an international presence. Gowling really stood out in this sense – it was my first-choice firm and I was lucky enough to get a place first time. I liked that the firm promoted itself as inclusive and down to earth, I'm pleased that’s been my experience over the past five years as well.
How much work experience had you had? Why’s it so important?
I spent some time as a case worker in a mental health office. This role was useful for my applications even though it wasn’t typical legal work experience at a firm because I had to comply with and understand the law.
What do you think made your application successful?
I think it was helpful that maths is an unusual degree to study before going into law, which probably made my application stand out in the first place. As I hadn’t always been set on pursuing a career as a solicitor, I completed work experience in a lot of different areas and was involved in sport to a high level. Although not law-specific, I did pick up a lot of transferable skills along the way and interesting things to talk about in the interview.
Which departments did you train in?
I did seats in corporate, IP, employment and a real estate seat in our regeneration team. Before I started, I was convinced that I'd prefer transactions and end up somewhere like corporate but throughout my training contract I learned I preferred areas of law that were ‘law heavy’ like employment or IP. In the end, I connected with employment that bit more. I'd encourage all trainees to keep an open mind and get a broad experience during their training contracts.
What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?
In my first seat, I didn’t put myself forward as much as I could’ve done. In my second seat, I gained confidence and tried to take ownership of parts of matters where possible. This is confidence I wish I had from the start.
Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?
My area of work is very broad because I get involved in litigation and advisory work. I also assist on corporate, real estate and other commercial transactions. Very often I'll work on at least five different matters in one day, all of which could be completely different. For example, amending a settlement agreement, advising on an employee relations issue, drafting pleadings for a tribunal matter, doing due diligence on a corporate deal or taking part in an investigation. This can be challenging, particularly when there are competing deadlines but I find it keeps me engaged.
How involved are you with business development and promoting the firm?
As an employment team we do a lot of update webinars and presentations for existing and potential clients because the law changes so regularly. The juniors are expected to get involved as much as seniors. These events are attended by in-house counsel, HR directors and HR business partners and this is a great opportunity to promote the firm and build relationships from an early stage.
What makes your firm stand out from the rest?
There are no airs and graces here. Everyone’s very personable and down to earth, which makes it a great environment to work in. This also translates to the type of service we provide to clients. We aim to build genuine relationships with clients and provide advice that’s accessible.
What diversity and inclusion initiatives does the firm have in place?
There are many networks at the firm. For example, we have:
I chaired OpenHouse for two years. The networks are open to everyone and are a great place to bounce ideas and promote awareness within the firm.
What’s the wider culture like – eg, are there sports teams/trips out?
We have quite a few sports teams, such as netball, football and cricket. We have a choir and a social club that arranges trips to see shows and to destinations like Paris and Bicester Village. We’re also encouraged to support the firm's pro bono initiatives.
Does your department largely work independently, in support of another dept or is it routinely supported by other depts?
It depends on the kind of work we're doing. Tribunal work tends to be employment team specific. For advisory work we might ask for input from different specialists like tax or pensions. We also routinely support the transactional teams with the employment aspect of their deals.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Below Deck – at the end of a hard day I need my brain to switch off and this does the trick.