Name: Polly Egan

Firm: Gateley

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Sports Science & Physiology

University: University of Leeds

Hobbies: Waterpolo, Crossfit, Netball, Swimming and baking/eating cakes

Current department: Commercial Dispute Resolution (1st seat)

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 20+/5 (3 vacation schemes)

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

In my undergraduate degree I undertook a module that introduced the business of sport. I was amazed at how much the law impacted on every aspect of the business. I had never seen the law in that light before, I had only ever associated solicitors with criminal law. I knew that I would be constantly challenged in a law career and I saw it as an opportunity to test myself.

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

Polly Egan, GateleyComing from a science background I found the application questions difficult as there was no ‘right answer’ that I could work out an answer to. I didn’t appreciate that the skills I had developed in my undergraduate degree and extra-curricular activities could be adapted and appreciated by a law firm.

I also thought that doing a degree that was completely different to a law degree would be frowned upon and that I would struggle to explain my choice to change to law. Instead I found that it was a great topic of conversation in interviews and assessment days and that most firms welcomed candidates with different backgrounds.

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

Q: If you could compare yourself to one person in history who would it be and why?

A: To be honest I can’t remember who I chose in the heat of the moment. I remember saying that they had faced adversity, had proved everyone wrong and succeeded. I think I was referring to the amount of times that I had been rejected from law firms but that I remained determined to succeed (I was embarrassed afterwards). 

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

The Commercial Dispute Resolution department deals with a variety of different disputes that arise between businesses, individuals and/or professionals. The work is diverse and can consist of an area of law you may never have dealt with before. We deal with work from defamation claims to breach of contract claims. Every day is different and brings a new challenge to the table.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

I enjoy working hard on a piece of work, be it drafting a witness statement or particulars of a claim, and see it have an impact on the outcome of the case (hopefully in a good way).

I also enjoy attending Court and client meetings where I can watch and learn about the dynamics of different professionals.

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

I didn’t expect to be immediately accepted into the team and be made to feel like I was an important member. I also don’t think I was expecting to attend as many social events as I do, it’s great.

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

My supervisor asking me to do a comparison on a settlement agreement that has been drafted and then send the comparison to the other side’s solicitors.

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

The kitchen or any trainee.

Describe your training partner in three words.

Thoughtful, fair and observant.

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

  • I was offered a job as a Disney Princess for Disney Land Paris.
  • I once waited on Gordon Ramsey and only served him cheese.
  • I was an extra in the Harry Potter films.

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

I would have played water polo abroad for as long as possible and then returned home to train as an osteopath.

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

Think before you start applying about what skills or experiences set you apart from everyone else. Don’t be disheartened if you get multiple rejections, it’s an extremely competitive profession; just learn from your mistakes.

Also get as much experience as you can, be it in a law firm or any other office environment. Know before you commence your legal career that it is really what you want to do because it is a long road to go down if you decide early on that being a solicitor is not for you.