Name: Lucy Winnington-Ingram

Firm: Reed Smith

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Politics and History

University: University College London

Hobbies: Swimming, travelling, theatre

Current department: Shipping

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 4/3

Lucy Winnington-Ingram, Reed Smith

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

I knew I wanted to do something that was both intellectually stimulating and client facing with a strong problem solving element. I was also attracted by the idea of gaining specific industry expertise (i.e. shipping / energy) as well as legal expertise.

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

Making sure that all of my applications were completed to the best of my ability and demonstrated detailed knowledge of the specific firm to which I was applying within a relatively tight time frame.

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

I personally found competency based questions to be more difficult than the skills / awareness type questions. I recall being asked to recount a time where I had worked in a team with someone who I had not agreed with, and how I had dealt with the situation.

I remember struggling to think of an example in the moment but talking about some of the extracurricular activities I had been involved with at university and trying to relate my experiences back to the question. I think the key to these questions is not to panic, and not to lie. If you really can’t think of a true and relevant example then be honest about it.

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

I have just finished my seat in ship finance. This is the transactional side of the Reed Smith shipping group which handles both sale and purchase of vessels as well as financings, re-financings and restructurings where the collateral is a vessel or vessels.

My first seat was in shipping litigation which deals with disputes involving vessels; anything from charterparty disputes to cargo claims and piracy.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

I have loved both of my shipping seats and the highlights have included being involved in court and arbitration proceedings, assisting with high-value re-financings of vessels and getting to learn more about the shipping industry generally. On the litigation side, shipping law is very much black letter law and I really enjoyed reading judgements and applying them to the specific facts of our clients’ disputes. On the transactional side, being involved in fast-paced international transactions has been very exciting.

More generally, I also enjoyed the level of client contact I have been afforded, as well as the high levels of responsibility.

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

I wasn’t expecting to learn so much. I feel that you learn and develop more in each seat of six months than you do throughout any other period of your life. The learning curve is very steep and you are bound to make many mistakes but everyone is incredibly supportive and heavily invested in your development.

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

An email from a member of my team wishing me luck in my next seat.

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

By the coffee machine in the kitchen.

Describe your training partner in three words.

Impressive, supportive and fun.

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

  • I am a terrible cook.
  • I ran the London marathon.
  • I once got attacked by a Pelican.

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

I always used to want to be a zoologist, but science was never my strongest subject so probably a career working for political think tanks.

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

Really think about what areas of law you might want to pursue and why. For me this was thinking about what I read in newspapers and what stories interested me the most, whether it be articles about world trade and energy or big M&A deals.

Make sure that you research the firms you apply to thoroughly and tailor your applications to demonstrate not only why you want to apply to that specific firm, but also why you are interested in the areas of law that they specialise in.

60-second interviews