Name: Joseph Collingwood

Firm: Dentons

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Combined Social Sciences (History and Politics)

University: Durham

Hobbies: Sport, reading, cooking

Current department: Corporate

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 20/5

Joseph Collingwood, Dentons

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

I finally decided to pursue a career as a solicitor on the drive up to Durham at the start of my third year of university. I had been considering law as a career for a few years, along with other options, and having done some work experience and some research, I decided that it was the career I wanted to pursue.

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

Juggling the application process with university finals and then the GDL course, and trying to full get across my skills and attributes in the application forms.

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

In 2011, as the country was starting to come out of recession, I was asked what would I have done if I was David Cameron to get out of recession quicker. I can’t remember exactly how I answered but I remember a lot of stuttering and I definitely didn’t have any better ideas than the leader of the country.

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

The corporate department at Dentons does a lot of private M&A, as well as public company work. I have been in the department for three months and have worked on three mid-market private M&A deals and one AIM listing.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

I got to do a six month secondment to Dentons’ San Francisco office. That was pretty cool. I was able to experience a number of areas of US law, including corporate, litigation, environmental and even some tribal law. The corporate work I did involved the acquisition of a tech start-up, and having the chance to do that kind of work in the tech capital of the world, Silicon Valley, was a great experience. All that, while getting to spend time in one of the best cities in the world, made for an amazing six months.

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

I didn’t expect to get up to speed with department-specific terminology so quickly. Before and for the first few weeks after you start in a new department, there are so many terms and acronyms used that you think you won’t ever understand what’s going on, but you pick up so much through osmosis that by the end of the seat you know so much more than you thought you would. (Then it’s time to move on and start over again!)

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

It’s from an associate who’s running to the hospital to see his first baby be born. He’s understandably asking another associate and me to cover on a deal for a few days.

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

The canteen at lunchtime (or Corney & Barrow at 10pm).

Describe your training partner in three words.

Reasonable, thoughtful, conciliatory

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

  • I was on the front page of the Bristol Evening Post due to my short-tennis prowess.
  • I spent six months trying to teach myself Mandarin and can now remember about six words.
  • I’ve never worked past midnight as a trainee…

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

I almost decided to be a journalist, so I guess that was the other realistic option. Sports, hopefully.

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

Get your application forms in early – don’t wait until the summer!!

60-second interviews