13 December 2012
Norton Rose trainee Hannah Truman worked for law firms for several years before biting the bullet and pursuing a career in law.
Name: Hannah Truman
Firm: Norton Rose LLP
Position: Trainee Solicitor
Universities: University College London
GDL or LPC: GDL and Accelerated LPC at BPP Holborn
Hobbies: Theatre, music, good food, travel and socialising
Department: Corporate Department - Oil and Gas
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor? Having graduated from university, I went on to work for law firms in a marketing/business development/PR capacity for about four years. I found myself being drawn towards the transactional side of the legal world, so I decided to bite the bullet and pursue a career in law.
Why did you choose your firm? I chose Norton Rose due to its excellent reputation in the legal market, its international reach, and its focus on six key areas. The lawyers are known for being leaders in their fields of practice but are also extremely down to earth. Norton Rose is an ambitious and forward thinking firm and is really going places. Our upcoming combination with US law firm Fulbright & Jaworski is the latest evidence of that.
Having worked at the firm for nearly seven months, I can say with certainty that not only is all of the above true, but that the firm is supportive and extremely friendly. There is an ethos of work hard and play hard.
What has been the highlight of your training contract so far? The highlight would be jetting off to Edinburgh for a closing. It was whilst I was in my first seat (in the banking department) and the team had been working on the deal for about six weeks. It was great being able to see the deal progress from instruction through to completion.
What does your typical day involve? I usually get into the office between 8.30am and 9am and try to get a bit of a head start on the day and grab an all important coffee. Every day is totally different and you can never predict exactly what may lie ahead. I really like the fact that you end up doing an assortment of tasks for different people, both partners and associates – from one off tasks like drafting, amending an agreement or cross-referencing, to on-going tasks when working on a particular deal through to completion. As trainees we also receive lots of vocational training, so various sessions are run on a weekly basis.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by your department? My particular team sits in the wider corporate team and we specifically focus on oil and gas M&A. Our transactions are heavily cross-border and our work includes listings, secondary offerings, M&A/takeover transactions as well as some private company work. The team is also involved in plenty of mainstream corporate work (particularly public company work). This includes advising clients on the practical impact of legislation changes and other applicable regulations.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job? The variety. I enjoy the challenge of undertaking new work and just being able to get involved in different transactions. It is great when you are given good feedback and can apply new found knowledge to similar tasks. I am enjoying the whole training process and the fact that it is possible to spend time in different departments and practice areas.
What are the worst aspects of your job? The nature of the work means it can be tricky to predict what time your working day will begin or end but the Norton Rose team are a brilliant bunch to work with and the work is genuinely interesting which makes all the difference.
What is the biggest misconception of the legal profession? Lawyers = arrogance. Not all lawyers have this quality. You encounter the same mix of people as you would in any other profession.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law? I would say make sure you get as much legal work experience as possible to ascertain whether it is the career for you or not. It involves a lot of hard work and dedication and it is important to go into it with your eyes open. If you do decide that it is the career for you, make sure that you achieve high grades at school/university, get involved in extra-curricular activities whether it be sport or legal pro bono work etc. Take up and become proficient in a language. Basically, make sure your CV is strong and that it conveys a clear interest in the legal profession so that you stand out from the competitive crowd.
What are the biggest pitfalls students should try to avoid when pursuing a legal career? Stay away from generic training contract applications - do not submit the same training contract application form en masse to different law firms. The forms do take a long time to fill in, but it is worthwhile in spending time and tailoring your application for each firm you want to apply to.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract? Initially deciding which firms to apply to, then filling out the application forms. Having selected Norton Rose and having secured a vacation scheme there, trying to make a good impression and coming across well during the interview with two partners at the end of the scheme; and finally getting the qualifications themselves by passing the accelerated LPC.
How is law in practice different from studying law? Studying law lays the foundations for working life. It ensures that you are equipped with the basic legal principles which come into play on a daily basis. That said, in practice, as a trainee you will be working on a number of different matters, with various deadlines and actually working as part of a team.
What are the common attributes of successful candidates? A successful candidate will possess good communication skills and interpersonal skills. The ability to readily understand difficult concepts and communicate the answers in an understandable and succinct format are important. Ambition, motivation and an instinct to meet any challenge head-on are also key attributes.