11 October 2012
Trainee with SGH Martineau Sheiba Brannan emphasises the difference between class exercises and life at the office
Name: Sheiba Brannan
Firm: SGH Martineau LLP
GDL or LPC: LPC
Department: Real Estate
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
I wanted a challenging career. I worked and travelled before I went to university so I knew that I wanted a career I wouldn’t become bored of.
Why did you choose your firm?
I wanted to train at a well regarded firm which has a broad range of quality commercial work. SGH Martineau LLP is an ambitious firm which is going from strength to strength despite the economic climate.
What has been the highlight of your training contract so far?
As trainees we are often given the opportunity to assist in writing articles and bulletins to update our clients on legal developments. Recently, I have had one of my commercial law articles published online. I also drafted website terms and conditions and policy documents for a client in a time pressured situation.
What does your typical day involve?
There isn’t a typical day - SGH Martineau LLP is committed to providing the best quality of service to its clients, consistently; therefore, no two days are ever the same particularly where trainees are involved in time-sensitive matters. The days will also vary according to the department.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by your department?
The real estate group is comprised of five different teams: banking & support; construction; investment, development and planning; property disputes and residential and landed property. The real estate group therefore deals with everything from the sale or purchase of a residential property to building design and procurement.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
As trainees we are encouraged to get involved with entire transactions rather than just carrying out isolated tasks, so in addition to learning how to put our skills into practice, where possible, we are encouraged to manage client expectations by dealing with them directly - this is rare in some firms.
What are the worst aspects of your job?
The first week or so after moving departments can be challenging, but that settles with time.
What is the biggest misconception of the legal profession?
That lawyers spend all day talking about the law. Lawyers advise on critical business decisions -our workloads are principally front end. If a good lawyer is retained at the outset, the chances of needing a lawyer to go to court to remedy things that have gone wrong, are greatly reduced.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
It is so important to understand what it is you will be doing as a lawyer – you can only do that through practical experience.
What are the biggest pitfalls students should try to avoid when pursuing a legal career?
Being unprepared and not investing the time to develop commercial skills.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
Identifying firms that I thought would be a good fit.
How is law in practice different from studying law?
In practice we don’t often have the luxury of looking at an issue in an isolated way as we would when analysing a problem-based question.
What are the common attributes of successful candidates?
I think that depends on the firm which is why research is so important. Broadly, I think work experience, the ability to think clearly and good organisation skills help.