University: University of Birmingham
Year of qualification: 2021
Department: Corporate, real estate
What attracted you to a career in law?
I love business but hate risk, so law was the perfect mix of being involved in business deals from a mitigating risk perspective.
Why solicitor not barrister?
I have always enjoyed working in a team and having the support of my incredibly talented colleagues (both legal and non-legal), which is much less likely in a career as a barrister. I am also not so interested in the advocacy side of law.
How did you decide which firms to apply to?
The key for me was finding somewhere I felt comfortable learning. It was essential that I felt like I could ask for any help I needed and that the firm had a focus on learning and development. I found this out by researching different firms’ websites and looking at the emphasis put on learning and development, but I found the most out by meeting with the firms at open days or other events.
How much work experience had you had? Why is it so important?
My only legal work experience was doing a few days a month for a local IP attorney during my first and second years of university where I learnt to make trademark applications and design registrations. This practical experience was important as it helped me to understand the law behind some applications that I saw in the media, such as Specsavers, Trunki and Rubix cube. In my third year I was also able to secure a vacation scheme which gave me a better insight into what a typical international law firm did and how an office ran.
I worked part time throughout my university studies and I would say my non-legal work experience was just as important as my legal work experience. Working in customer service roles helped me to develop important soft skills such as effective communication and taught me how to manage the people in my team.
What do you think made your application successful?
I think a successful application must demonstrate that you understand what a commercial lawyer does, what skills a commercial lawyer requires and the type of work the firm you are applying to does and how it looks to provide services to its clients. Then it is a case of showing that you have and enjoy using those skills, you enjoy the type of work your firm does and how they deliver their services.
Which departments did you train in?
I did my first seat in insurance disputes, the second in core real estate, the third in energy and infrastructure finance and my final seat was a corporate client secondment to Man Group Plc.
Please discuss a specific deal/case that you were involved with, outlining your role in the matter.
I was involved in acting for the World Bank (which was acting as guarantor) in the financing of a solar farm in Uzbekistan. The project was so interesting as it was such a vital project to bring a stable energy supply to Uzbekistan. I particularly enjoyed learning about and organising the contributions of the many different stakeholders involved in a financing for a developing country. My main role was keeping a checklist of the conditions precedent to the financing and ensuring they were all being progressed and completed on time (including completing many of our clients myself). I was also able to join many calls in which a number of different stakeholders would give comments on and discuss the suite of documents, which I would then mark up in line with the negotiations.
How does the qualification process work at the firm?
For a September qualifier the process begins around March when you begin thinking about the areas you are interested in and doing the relevant research on the teams you may want to apply for. You then submit your application in May and receive any offers in June. Currently you can apply for up to three months qualification leave before you start your role.
What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?
The firm has a huge amount of support in the form of specialist staff, subscriptions to resources and other knowledge banks which help you to learn and develop.
What advice do you have for budding solicitors who are contemplating a career in law?
Take your time to understand the different practice areas in a firm and the different types of firm (and the work they do) so you can narrow down your research. It is not possible to find everything out about every firm!
How did your firm adapt to covid-19?
As a result of covid-19 I think the stigma around working from home has improved. The firm has a 60/40 agile working option allowing colleagues to work from home for up to 40% of the time. This flexibility makes it easier for employees to maintain their personal commitments as well as their professional commitments.
What is the work-life balance like at your firm? How often do you have late nights/work at weekends?
Late nights and weekend work are common because of how important the work we do is. However, often I look at the clock wanting it to be earlier because I have more I want to get done that day, rather than wishing the time away because I want to leave! Through your career you learn how to prioritise your time and come to realise that not every piece of work needs to be done as a matter of urgency. As you understand the work you are doing better you understand when you need to stay late and when you don't. You take the peaks and troughs as they come!
What is the wider culture like – eg, are there sports teams/trips out? Is there a LGBT group, women’s group etc?
We have more groups than I could possibly name but by way of insight these are the ones I am aware of:
We also have a huge amount of social/interest-based clubs including the art committee, trainee business development committee, sailing club, fantasy football and clubs for most typical sports!
Where is your dream holiday destination?
I'm going to have to say Yellowstone National Park, who doesn’t love a super-volcano?