Tashan Dwyer, magic circle trainee and online creator, talks about starting out at a top firm.
Since graduating with a first-class degree at The University of Warwick, Tashan Dwyer’s journey, which has been documented throughout on his YouTube channel, has spanned paralegaling and travelling across the world.
Currently on secondment in Paris, he took some time to talk about the motivating factors behind his career choices and spoke about the future of his online platform. He also gave us some thoughts on representation and accessibility in the legal sector and provided advice for students who are looking to secure a training contract or who might be considering secondment overseas.
How have you found 2021, and the challenges of working from home during your training contract?
“Due to the pandemic, there’s been a renaissance in the way everyone now looks at working. The whole concept of face-to-face contact has changed. I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of adapting to working from home and trying to see the positives in it. You have more time to pursue hobbies, make content, see your friends, and do art. There’s been a lot of learning and personal development: I’ve been thinking about how I see myself as a lawyer, asking myself what it is that I want to do, evaluating what it is that makes me happy. In short: 2021’s been a year of learning and reflecting.”
Why did you choose to go into law?
“I decided to study law because there is an opportunity to use the law to improve people’s life chances and life position. I was also suited to law in terms of matching skill sets. Essay-based subjects like English, Politics and Sociology were always really strong areas for me. Those two things made me want to study law. My university also helped to influence my choice. I went to Warwick, which is very strong in preparing students for the corporate world, meaning that when I went to the law firms, I realised that I was both capable of doing the work, and that it fit with my skill sets.”
In terms of your practice areas, did you have any motivations behind why you picked them?
“My training contract has predominantly been focused on finance and corporate. My process when picking practice areas was part personal, in terms of understanding what it was that I enjoy doing. Another aspect was thinking about what the firm is good at and combining the two considerations to work out where I could see myself excelling. My first seat was in finance, my next two seats were corporate M&A, and now back into finance again. I am really enjoying transactional seats, and find that I understand finance well, and this has motivated my decision-making process.”
Did you face any obstacles or barriers getting into law?
“Definitely. I’ve always felt like there’s been a lack of representation for Black British men within the legal sector. We all know these issues persist, and that was what I was experiencing. This lack of representation in certain roles or legal schemes can leave you wondering is this the right thing to do? Who can I talk to and bounce ideas off? To get my training contract, I had to be very methodical. For instance, each application window, I handpicked around eight law firms that I wanted to apply to, ensured that I sent in my applications well before the application deadline and, when fortunate enough to be invited to an assessment centre, reached out to current trainees to ask questions about their practice and their firm’s strategy. Finally, I would then review feedback from both successful and unsuccessful assessment centres, to build upon my knowledge. Towards the end of my time at university, legal content creation was newly emerging. Like many, I also watched legal content creators on YouTube and read forums on law firm applications. When coupled with my structured approach to the application process, tapping into this laidback, but still informative, content broadened my understanding of the sector and assessment centre process.”
Is there more that the legal sector can do to improve representation and accessibility?
“Yes, I think a lot of firms are trying to do many things. But I think there’s a wider question to address. If you’re trying to respond to macro factors, for example on identity, social mobility, race and class, I think that firms do need partnership and collaboration, and it would be great to see more collaboration across law firms for particular initiatives to help respond to these macro level factors.”
What are your future plans for your channel?
“I have big plans for my channel. Initially, I started out with a legal focus, for example, discussing how to get your first-class degree, or how to pass your LPC. It was for people who wanted training. But I felt like that might limit my creativity, and so many people offer that already, which is great, it’s really useful for people. But over time I think I wanted to see my career coalesce with my personal interests. So yes, I’m a trainee solicitor, but also, I like to go to the gym, or spend time with my friends, or play video games. Adding that depth I think is less common and far more personable: you can grow with that person. Merging those identities into one is the long-term plan. Secondly - I feel that I have an obligation to be true, honest and transparent and that’s something that I try to convey in everything I do.”
So, you are in Paris right now on secondment. How would you compare the lifestyle and the work/life balance to London? Would you encourage others to take up international secondments?
“It’s hard to compare because while I’ve had my training contract in the UK I’ve been predominantly working from home. I’ve only been able to see what it’s like more regularly working in an office since I’ve been here in Paris. I feel like I have nothing to compare it to. Would I recommend it to other people? I would say definitely, but I feel like it’s important to stay open minded to all opportunities, for example, client secondments. You can think to yourself – how else can I get exposure to a different way of working, or a different market, or learn different skills? I think that should be the most important thing to take away.”
Do you have any advice for students that are looking to secure training contracts?
“I would say two things. One, there are a lot of good creators online who make really digestible content. You can use them to help understand how to become a better candidate – so perhaps check out online content creators as well as the other usual channels such as graduate recruitment websites and legal student guides. Two – understand that every single law firm has different requirements. One firm might look for one specific skill while another might look for a different specific skill. So, you can’t have a blanket approach, it’s important to take a nuanced approach to different firms.”
This article was first published in our Verdict magazine.