Name: Michael Nutman

Firm: Shoosmiths

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Law LLB

University: University of Birmingham

Hobbies: Triathlon, travelling, bread making

Current department: Corporate

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 2/1

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

I love meeting knew people and building new relationships and this is at the heart of being a successful lawyer. If you combine this with varied, challenging and intellectually stimulating work you have, in my opinion, a very exciting career opportunity.

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

The legal market is saturated with intelligent, highly qualified and enthusiastic individuals vying for a training contract. The most difficult challenge that I faced when trying to secure a training contract was to set myself apart from this crowd.

I sought to bolster my CV at every opportunity and focus on my own personal brand. Managing and completing large transactions as a paralegal, organising fundraising initiatives, volunteering and running the London Marathon were all things that helped to set me a part but it took time and perseverance.

Michael Nutman, Shoosmiths

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

I have always found questions relating to strengths and weaknesses very difficult. This is not because I do not have strengths and weaknesses but because I always want my answers to be different and it is very easy to give mundane, predicable answers here.

In respect of strengths I found it extremely useful to provide unusual examples of how my strengths have been used in my working or personal life.

In respect of weaknesses I have always sought to explain how I have tried to address these weaknesses and what the outcome of this self-improvement had been to date. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that weaknesses persist provided that you explain how you continue to work on them.

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

The corporate team manage a wide variety of transactions on behalf of clients ranging from large private equity investment and M&A work to niche enterprise investment projects and day to day corporate governance issues.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

As a trainee you are in the enviable position of having countless talented people invest time in your personal development for 24 months. You are given countless opportunities to develop your skill set and are exposed to interesting work/transactions/deals on a regular (if not daily) basis.

Aside from the varied and challenging work of a trainee you are also given the support to get involved with fundraising, corporate responsibility and recruitment projects within the local area. This is a nice aside to the day to day work of a trainee and also helps you to develop your own contacts and networks within the local area.

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

I underestimated how difficult it would be to say goodbye to a seat which I had really enjoyed. It can be something of a wrench to develop a competent skill set in a particular discipline and then be asked (at the end of your seat) to start from scratch once more.

It is something which gets easier as the training contract progresses and by the mid-point of any seat you are well and truly immersed in it. However, putting particular skills aside and starting as the ‘newbie’ in a team will always be a challenge and one which you must adapt to quickly.

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

I have been asked to undertake some urgent research in respect of the UK Charity Commission and the enforcement powers that it has. I need to focus on the extent to which the UK Charity Commission can strip a charity of its charitable status and the likelihood of this tool being used if misconduct of a trustee is identified.

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

The trainees tend to have their ‘finger on the pulse’ and so if you find a trainee you can be sure to hear a choice bit of gossip. All harmless fun though of course.

Describe your training partner in three words.

Expert. Approachable. Inspiring.

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

  • I have lived in Tanzania.
  • I have starred in numerous blockbuster films including a short cameo in Mission Impossible III.
  • I once won a pie eating contest.

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

I often thought about joining the RAF before I opted for a career in law. Working as a tight knit team and travelling the world were big draws. In law I still work as part of a tight knit team which is great and there is also plenty of travel (although this is largely restricted to England, Scotland and Wales).

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

Always be aware of and work on your ‘personal brand’ i.e. how people perceive you. Your legal expertise is assumed at the point of qualification and so what sets you apart from your peers is your ability to build and maintain good relationships and how much people (clients) want to work with you.