Name: Zachary Gould-Wilson

Firm: BLM

Position: Trainee Solicitor

Degree: Law LLB

University: The University of Leicester

Hobbies: Theatre; Horse racing; Reading (mostly legal news publications such as The Lawyer and Global Legal Post, unfortunately I don’t have much time to read fiction these days!)

Current department: Third Seat/Client Secondment

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 50/8

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to complete various work experience placements during my studies, and I enjoyed the legal work experience placements in particular. These were not necessarily vacation schemes but also internships with an in-house legal team. I decided to train as a solicitor because I preferred to work directly with clients and to work as part of a team in a dynamic office environment.

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

You need to be prepared to put in the time and effort to prepare applications to the very best quality you can. Every one of them needs to be tailored to the firm to which you are applying because it is so easy to identify the generic applications when the graduate recruiters receive many high quality applications. My biggest challenge was to set aside enough time to research the firms and plan how to answer the application questions properly.

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

I always had difficulty answering the question “why do you want to train as a solicitor rather than as a barrister?” Those who know me might say that my skill set might be more aligned to the barrister route, but I have always had an intrinsic motivation to pursue my dream of training as a solicitor. I answered this question by explaining that the differences between solicitors and barristers are narrowing, and this is quite clearly seen in the rise of the solicitor advocate undertaking more court work and in the popularity of the Direct Access scheme in which members of the public are able to consult with barristers without the need to go via a solicitor first. The future is uncertain as there might not even be a distinction in a few years’ time!

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

I am currently working ‘in-house’ for one of our insurer clients in the Recoveries Department. The type of work we handle includes assessing the prospects of a successful recovery from any liable third parties, contacting and negotiating with those third parties and their insurers, and then attempting to obtain an indemnity in respect of our settled outlay. When the matter gets a bit too technical, or expert advice is required, then we would instruct external legal advisors to assist and that is where BLM comes into the picture as one of the panel firms.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

I was responsible for my own caseload in the previous department in which I worked, and this was a fantastic opportunity to exert some real ownership over the conduct of those matters. It was quite enjoyable to be ‘thrown in the deep end’ as this puts your skills to the test and also allows you to develop your own style of providing legal services.

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

I did not expect to undertake my own advocacy including attending telephone hearings to submit oral arguments to a Master or a Judge. This was an extremely helpful learning experience, and it is recommended to get use to public speaking at a more junior level to have more confidence when you get to a more senior level.

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

It is an email from a gentleman in the marketing department. He is advising that new branded calendars for next year will shortly be going on sale. I must admit that I am quite partial to a decent desktop calendar, and these look particularly colourful.

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

Unfortunately nobody tells me anything – so I would not know how to answer this!

Describe your training partner in three words.

Fiercely intelligent lady.

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

  • I am a terrible cook, having once burned even a frozen pizza
  • My favourite ties are large polka dots or printed patterns (usually opt for the animal prints);
  • I was once told I look like a young Clint Eastwood.

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

I would have been a dentist! I loved my biology and chemistry lessons back in school and feel this would have been a suitable alternative. My previous teachers have since told me that they would prefer I was their solicitor over their dentist so perhaps I made the right choice.

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

You need to be prepared to put in the time and effort to research the firms and draft the applications because it is so competitive and there are so many good candidates out there.