Name: Carla O’Neill

Firm: Osborne Clarke

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Law

University: University of Southampton

Hobbies: Netball, dressmaking and cooking

Current department: Employment

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: Approximately 10/5

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

From a young age, I wanted to understand how law applies to daily life. I quickly realised that anyone who runs a business or purchases something from a shop has to deal with legislation.

Now that I am older I feel it’s vital to enjoy and be challenged by the work that you do and I know I will never get bored of working in the legal profession.

What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?

I initially found it difficult to complete training contract applications as I was unsure of the best approach to take when answering the questions. However, once I gained some relevant work experience, the process was much easier as I had real life knowledge I could draw on.

What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?

I was asked in an interview, following a vacation scheme, what one thing I would change about the firm. This put me on the spot to come up with something that was constructive but also wasn’t necessarily a negative.

Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…

The work I handle is really dynamic. In the morning, I could be researching exemptions under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, and in the afternoon I might be asked to attend a meeting with Counsel to discuss an upcoming hearing.

Employment is a really interesting department because the work ranges from advisory tasks to contentious matters. My team regularly deal with reorganisations, corporate acquisitions and disposals. We also handle employment disputes and managing reputation and risk, which is exciting work for a trainee.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

I really like the people at Osborne Clarke. It can be daunting moving seats but everyone is so friendly and welcoming at this firm.

I also enjoy the variety of matters that I am involved in. Our training supervisors try to avoid giving trainees repetitive tasks so that they receive the best training possible.

What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?

I didn’t expect there to be so many activities to get involved in – for example, along with two other trainees, I currently chair the Charity Committee.

Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?

Actually I just received an email from a client saying thank you for an employment guidance note that I prepared.

Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?

We have lots of fun office social events so there’s always an opportunity to have a good natter at the bar. For our summer party this year we’re having a festival and people attend from across our UK and international offices. So it’ll definitely be a good chance to hear some inter-office gossip.

Describe your training partner in three words.

Helpful, approachable and patient.

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).

  • I was born in Berlin.
  • Vegetables are my favourite food, brussel sprouts to be exact.
  • I had a hamster called 007.

If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?

I’ve always liked the idea of running my own business and I am very slightly cat crazy.

So if I hadn’t decided to become a lawyer, I might have considered setting up a luxury boarding cattery called “Cool Cats”.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?

If you can, apply for vacation schemes. They are an excellent way for the firm to assess whether you are a suitable candidate, and also for you to work out whether you can see a future with the firm.

Most importantly, persevere! Try not to be downhearted if you aren’t successful at any stage of the application process. Pick yourself up and plough on.