29 March 2011
I was attracted to the profession for the satisfaction of coming up with practical and workable solutions, and the opportunity to use my degree to do some creative problem-solving within the parameters of the law.
Baker & McKenzie
Position: Trainee solicitor
University: King’s College London
Where did you study the LPC? College of Law, Moorgate
Hobbies: Hockey, cooking, eating out, cinema, travel
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor? I enjoy being part of a team so the isolation of the bar didn’t appeal to me. I was attracted to the profession for the satisfaction of coming up with practical and workable solutions, and the opportunity to use my degree to do some creative problem-solving within the parameters of the law.
Why did you choose commercial law? At university, I enjoyed the more commercial subjects most. After some vacation placements in City firms I found that this area attracts the best lawyers. As I wanted to learn from people at the top of the profession and get involved in challenging work I decided to train at a top commercial law firm.
What has been the highlight of your training contract so far? Being given the chance to run a small matter on my own in my second month. I enjoyed the steep learning curve, the responsibility and the satisfaction of seeing my initials on the documents.
What does your typical day involve? My days are quite varied. I often find that a week contains various tasks including drafting documents, attending meetings/conference calls, collating conditions precedent required for a closing, liaising with colleagues in overseas offices, researching points of law, business development and training.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job? The people I work with, the range of tasks I undertake and wider office life such as sports teams, pro bono work and Friday night drinks.
What are the worst aspects of your job? Unpredictable hours and occasionally having to let people down when work demands crop up. Thankfully, this is rare and you pick up management and prioritisation skills pretty quickly.
What’s the biggest misconception of the legal profession? Being continually asked how you can defend someone who you know is guilty is a source of great frustration.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law? Be clear that it is what you want to do. Speak to as many lawyers as possible, read all the careers literature you can get your hands on and do work placements such as vacation schemes or mini-pupillages to find out what the work is like. And don’t shy away from responsibility.
What are the biggest pitfalls students should try to avoid when pursuing a legal career? I would caution against the scattergun approach to applications. Choose the type of firm you would like to work for and then spend time constructing a small number of applications.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract? Picking the right type of firm. From just the brochures and flashy websites law firms can look generic. I found I could only get a sense of a firm’s culture by meeting the people and going to the offices.
How is law in practice different from studying law? A law degree is purely academic. Tutors look for comprehensive discussion, analysis and
evaluation of the law. They want to know what the law is, how it got there, what it should be and what it is likely to be in the future. Clients like their law served up clearly and concisely, with a side order of pragmatism.
What are the common attributes of successful candidates? A commercially minded mentality with a positive attitude and a sharp eye for detail.