2 October 2013
BT lawyer Hayley Amoss says that her in-house training contract was a lot more diverse than you might think.
Name: Hayley Amoss
Position: Commercial Lawyer
Degree: BSc Politics and International Relations
University: University of Southampton
GDL or LPC: GDL (College of Law – Guildford); LPC (College of Law – Bloomsbury)
Hobbies: Reading, socialising, going to the theatre, watching films
Department/field: BT TV
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor
I remember looking at potential career options during my second year of university, and I decided quite early on that I wanted I wanted a career which was intellectually stimulating, where I could use my problem-solving skills, and where I could be at the heart of business decisions. A career as a solicitor not only gave me this, but it would also allow me to interact with people on a daily basis, which was also important to me.
Why did you choose to train in-house?
In-house training had a much greater appeal than private practice, primarily because it gave me an opportunity not only to complete my legal training, but also to understand how a large FTSE100 company operates. I have completed seats in a number of different areas of the business, and so I have been able to see and experience various parts of the organisation first-hand which has helped my understanding of how the business operates as a whole.
What was the highlight of your training contract?
I experienced a number of different areas of the business as part of my training and the breadth of experience that I have gained from this, and the insight into how a FTSE100 company operates as a result, has proved invaluable. The real highlight of my training contract, however, has to be the day I qualified. BT’s training contract is structured slightly differently from traditional training contracts, as the training contract lasts for three years with trainees studying the LPC part-time for the first two years. After years of studying and training, there was a real sense of achievement (and relief!) on the day I qualified.
What does your typical day involve?
I’m sure most people say this, but there really is no typical day! The BT TV Legal team supports both BT Vision and BT Sport, and so I split my time between supporting these teams. I will spend some of my day drafting and negotiating licence agreements with movie studios and film distribution companies to acquire TV and film content for the BT Vision service. The rest of my day will be spent supporting BT Sport, where I could be negotiating a presenter’s agreement or a sponsorship contract, or drafting an agreement to acquire content for the channels.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the legal department at BT?
BT has a large in-house legal team, with around 380 people worldwide supporting all areas of the business. The range of experience within BT is similar to that of a medium-sized city law firm, with lawyers specialising in IP, corporate, competition, regulatory, property and litigation, as well as providing more general commercial legal advice.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
I work very closely with clients on a day-to-day basis, and I really enjoy working with them to find a solution to their problem. It’s also always really exciting to complete a deal, especially after weeks (sometimes months!) of intense negotiation.
What are the worst aspects of your job?
That there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get through everything on my to-do list!
What do you believe is the biggest misconception of training in-house?
Many people are often surprised to learn that you can train and qualify in-house, and often assume that training in-house would be narrow in scope. My legal training has, in fact, been very diverse (albeit with more of a business focus than perhaps traditional training contracts), and my seats have included two commercial seats (one in BT’s Wholesale division, followed by a more media-focussed seat in the TV legal team), a litigation seat and a corporate seat.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in-house?
As an in-house lawyer, it’s important to be able to balance legal knowledge with the commercial realities of the business. What might be the best solution from a ‘legal’ perspective may not be the best solution from a business point of view, and it’s important to fully understand the legal and commercial requirements of the internal client and provide advice accordingly.
What are the biggest pitfalls students should try to avoid when pursuing a legal career?
I think it’s really important to experience as many different areas as possible during your training contract. I was keen during my training contract to avoid specialising too early on and spend time in as many different legal teams as I could, which ultimately helped me decide what area of law I wanted to focus on when I qualified.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
There was a lot of competition to secure a training contract, and so it was really important to make sure each application was well-research and really stood out although this did take a lot of time. I was also studying the GDL at the same time, which made the application process quite stressful.
What are the common attributes of successful candidates?
I have found that the main attribute of a successful candidate is the ability to think commercially and understand the business needs of the client. Successful candidates also need to demonstrate that they are driven and can think independently.