Name: Josephine Healy

Firm: Shoosmiths

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Law LLB

University: University of Reading

Hobbies: Netball, travel literature, travel & baking

Current department: Corporate

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 10/2

Josephine Healy, Shoosmiths

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

It sounds clichéd but as long as I remember I have wanted to be a lawyer. I think the interest came from watching too many police detectives and crime series in my teens!

For a while I was unsure whether I wanted to be a barrister or a solicitor but after doing some research, and some work experience at university, I soon realised that I wanted to be a solicitor. I wanted the client contact and the idea of being in a position where I could take charge and advise people on their legal issues, was attractive to me.

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

I think one of the biggest challenges is getting noticed in the sea of other candidates. It’s so competitive to get a job and every LLB, GDL and LPC grad is after the same goal.

I’ve always been quite confident, and thought that I could do well in an interview, and so the biggest challenge for me was making my written application shine enough to get myself in front of an interviewer!

My advice is to focus on a smaller number of applications than to attempt a mass factory-esque (identical copied and pasted) training contract application production line- it doesn’t work! The other challenge that goes hand in hand with this is patience.

You need patience with your applications, and yes, they’re tedious and time consuming but you never know which one could be the one that lands you the coveted ‘Future Trainee Solicitor at…’ LinkedIn title. You definitely also need the patience to wait for those (hopefully) job offers to come through.

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

It’s a question that I have heard bounced around a fair bit and something I have always found tricky to answer – “What is your weakest feature?”

I have wrestled with this question in the past and it came up in my successful training contract interview. I think it is a really difficult question to answer sincerely and in a way that is personal to you.

I’ve heard that people always say classic answers such as: “I take on too much work”, “I’m a perfectionist” and “I care too much about my work”. These are generic and are easy to blurt out in the heat of the moment.

I prepared for this question and it still flustered me, so much so that I know I said something passable but I have no idea what it was. My brain has blanked it out in panic.

Although I can’t remember what I said, I heard a great one recently from one of our partners, where, when asked the same question, the candidate replied: “Umm… well… hmmm… err… maybe indecisiveness?!”

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

All the trainees have just switched seats and so today is day one of my corporate seat. Instead, let me tell you about my second seat which was a client secondment to a leading travel company! I was very excited to go on secondment and it was an invaluable experience – I’d definitely recommend doing a secondment during your training contract if you get the chance.

The work was very varied and I was involved in a wide range of commercial contract negotiation, compliance matters (group wide policies and legislation updates) and corporate work (due diligence, board minute drafting etc.). The company is also a plc which meant that I also picked up company secretarial work every now and then and was able to learn about the way a plc works. Being able to view things from the clients perspective will be a great asset going forward in my training contract.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

One of the things that I enjoy the most is the sociable aspect of Shoosmiths. It is a very friendly firm with a great brand that can be seen all around the offices. I find that I am also motivated the most when I am challenged and have good supervision – I have been lucky to have both of these during my training contract so far. The people you work with can really make or break whether you enjoy your job and I think that I picked a great firm to train at.

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

I didn’t expect people to be as friendly as they are. I picked Shoosmiths for a reason and knew that they had a strong brand throughout the firm but the atmosphere within the office is really great. Of course people get stressed and at times are under pressure and you can’t be perky and smiley 24/7 but, overwhelmingly, people here are lovely and always willing to help you. Little things like taking someone for a welcome coffee goes a long way. I’ve been in jobs before where you don’t get that and so when you do have it, you appreciate it even more.

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

It’s an email from my supervisor with background information about a complex company reorganisation I’ll be assisting her with over the coming weeks.

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

Definitely to the trainees and PAs!

Describe your training partner in three words.

On the ball.

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

  • When learning to drive, I drove into my own house.
  • I once did a ‘I’m a Celebrity’-esque challenge and ate a live Witchetty Grub.
  • I once accidentally set a tent that I was due to sleep in, on fire.

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

I always told myself that if I hadn’t become a lawyer I would want to be a doctor. (Again, probably stemming from my love of Grey’s Anatomy!). Whether I could deal with all of the blood and gore in real life… I’ll never know!

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

Although it sounds obvious – try to figure out what kind of firm you want to train at. I remember during my application period finding it all very daunting, and in some cases, making an application because it was a well-known name and this was reassuring. Take the time to study the law firm’s pages, look at the size of the firm, their practice areas and most importantly what they say about their culture, brand and diversity.

Taking the time to look at their social media posts can also give you a great insight into the firm’s friendliness and to see how they interact with future candidates and other firms online.

60-second interviews