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A day in the life of a Trainee Solicitor in the United Kingdom
Throughout my academic career, I have always found my strengths in analysis and structuring arguments and solutions to problems. I knew that being a lawyer would cater for my desire to learn, and would push me to think outside of the box continually.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
Clifford Chance is a leading international law firm with a focus on innovation. They pride themselves on being at the forefront of the legal sector, representing some of the world's leading companies.
What do you do?
Currently, I am a future trainee solicitor. This means that I am undertaking the relevant exams and qualifications necessary to begin my training contract in February 2021. Trainee solicitors at Clifford Chance are given a huge amount of freedom and trust when they start at the firm. A typical day may include drafting attendance notes or letters of advice, attending meetings with supervisors, but also developing your own approaches to legal issues, and being involved in the heart of the decision making process. Clifford Chance also have a department dedicated to the advancements of legal technology, and trainees are encouraged to get involved and develop their tech, or build on something that the firm is working on. This is to ensure that as a trainee, we are constantly broadening our horizons and focussing on how we can adapt our skills to fit the ever-changing legal world. Trainees are also given the opportunity to do an international secondment with the firm for 6 months, which is an incredible opportunity to experience different cultures, and take yourself out of your comfort zone.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
Throughout my academic career, I have always found my strengths in analysis and structuring arguments and solutions to problems. I knew that being a lawyer would cater for my desire to learn, and would push me to think outside of the box continually. I applied for a training contract at Clifford Chance in the 3rd year of my undergraduate degree at York. This involved an application form, an online critical thinking test, and eventually an assessment day. The assessment day involved two interviews. One was a competency based interview, in which a Senior Associate from Clifford Chance spoke to me about my skills and work experience, and the second was a Partner interview. In this interview, we were given a case study and had to complete the task and present this to the Partner after 30 minutes.
Following my acceptance, in February 2019, I graduated with my Philosophy degree and went straight on to complete the Graduate Diploma in Law for one year, in order to convert my degree to a qualifying law degree. I am currently undertaking the accelerated Commercial Legal Practice LLM course, in order to finish my qualifications necessary for becoming a solicitor. I will then begin my 2 year training contract with Clifford Chance in February 2021.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
I was incredibly lucky as I already had my training contract lined up before graduation. However, the recruitment process was intense, and I received many rejections from other firms. I always knew that a job in the legal profession would suit my mind and my skills, and so this role was not different to what I had hoped to achieve when studying my undergraduate degree.
Describe your most memorable day at work
As I actually haven't started in the office yet, it is difficult to answer this question. However, my most memorable day with Clifford Chance is the first time that I went to their office and had a presentation from one of the Partners there. I remember feeling so overwhelmed that I was sitting in a Magic Circle law firm, and that I couldn't believe that my goal of becoming a lawyer was becoming so real, and so close. I love being in the office, and chatting to all of the people that work there. I have no doubt that finally being there full time will bring me all of the enjoyment and challenges that I always hoped I would have in my job.
What’s your work environment and culture like?
Clifford Chance is based in London, in Canary Wharf. The buzz of London means that there is always something happening, and the firm often organise fun events so that colleagues can relax and have fun together. A job as a solicitor is an incredibly professional role, so business wear is worn, but CC mix this professionalism with a very relaxed vibe, which makes for a balanced atmosphere in the office. Although many employees are primarily based in the office, flexible working is something that is becoming more prevalent throughout the firm. Being a solicitor is an incredibly demanding role, but it is something that employees at CC only thrive from. It is a commitment, but one that reaps so many benefits. As a global firm, it means that we are constantly in contact with people from around the globe, and it really broadens your horizons, and gives you a more worldly view. As I have mentioned, there are plenty of opportunities for international secondments throughout your time at the firm.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
Whilst at York, I was a prevalent member of Central Hall Musical Society, and was a member of the committee, as well as producing one of their shows. This was the most rewarding thing that I have ever done, and I would say that this is what helped me gain my job as a trainee solicitor. I learnt and developed key skills like working to deadlines, working with challenging individuals, being committed to innovation and making a change, as well as being organised, approachable and tenacious. The show I produced raised money for charity, so I also worked closely to a budget.
As well as this, I worked as STYC in my second year. On reflection of that experience, it definitely taught me a lot about empathy and understanding others. Being a lawyer is often about seeing things from more than one perspective in order to solve a problem. This role definitely helped me become a better listener, and thinker.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
Remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. You will face rejection. I faced so much rejection, and it is so easy to give up. Please don't! Those that have tenacity and patience will go the furthest. It is so easy to think that life won't fit like you thought it would, but it really will. Put yourself out there and go to events (this was so helpful for me!) and network as much as you can. You don't have to go and tell an employer everything that you know about the legal world. Be yourself, be engaged, be a good listener, and most importantly show that you have the resilience that will get you through working at the biggest and best firms and companies.
Life after graduation is so hard, and you feel a bit lost at times. Things will always work out, and everything starts to make a lot more sense. Enjoy your time now, and make the most out of every opportunity that you are given. You never know when a very exciting door could open for you!
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
Anything you need at all- feel free to drop me a message.
If you like the look of Lucy’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Lucy a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Lucy to be your mentor.