15 June 2012
Nabarro trainee solicitor Samuel Whiteman advises aspiring lawyers that focus, experience and research are the best things to help you pursue a career in law.
Name: Samuel Whiteman
Firm: Nabarro LLP
Position: Trainee Solicitor
Degree: Business Commerce
Universities: University of Birmingham
GDL or LPC: Both at BPP Law School
Hobbies: Going out with friends, travelling and preparing for a child in September!
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
I studied a couple of law modules in my first year at University and combined with the business aspect of my degree, it was the most logical route to take.
Why did you choose your firm?
I did a vacation scheme at Nabarro and really enjoyed the high quality commercial work, the people and the vibe I got. I don’t think you really know a firm until you do a vacation scheme there and get to see what it is really like.
What has been the highlight of your training contract so far?
Working on the admission of Music Festivals PLC to AIM (I’m a huge music fan, so this was a treat). Other highlights included working on a pre-pack that came in on a Friday evening and closed on the Monday, and my secondment to Serco which was a fantastic opportunity to work directly with a client.
What does your typical day involve?
The best thing about being a trainee is that no two days are the same. For example, today I attended an AGM in the morning, drafted some DD enquiries to be sent to the other side, wrote this interview and am going to a client dinner this evening.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by your department?
M&A, ECM (main list and AIM), Private Equity, Venture Capitalist, Corporate Reorganisations, Partnership Law and general corporate work.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
The range of work, the adrenaline rush of a completion and the people.
What are the worst aspects of your job?
Never quite knowing when the day will end can be tough, but it is the job I chose, plus being part of a good team makes it easier.
What is the biggest misconception of the legal profession?
That we have a certain background, attended a certain university and got the job through a contact.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Focus. It is a huge commitment and you must be certain it is right for you. Get as much experience as possible (both legal and commercial), speak to people in the profession and don’t underestimate the opportunities to speak to people at law fairs and open days.
What are the biggest pitfalls students should try to avoid when pursuing a legal career?
Thinking all firms are the same. They aren’t, just like each candidate is individual.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
Knowing which firms to apply to. There are a lot out there with different concentrations. Do your research, go to law fairs and open days and don’t be afraid to follow up on any contacts you make in the process. Being proactive will only stand you in good stead.
How is law in practice different from studying law?
It is a lot more commercial, quicker paced and more exciting. Studying law prepares you for the intellectual challenge, but in practice, you need to combine the intellectual challenge with the commerciality of a matter.
What are the common attributes of successful candidates?
“Commercial Awareness”, confidence in their ability and being able to work well as part of a team are all vital.