What made you want to study law? I’d had law in mind since my undergraduate days. I studied politics, then completed the GDL at Nottingham Law School, after which I secured a training contract. My firm puts its trainees through the LPC at University of Law because of its focused courses in specific areas. In London, the Bloomsbury campus offers commercial electives, while the Moorgate campus specialises in the corporate, City electives – so for anyone who wants to go into a City law firm and obtain a good grounding in the essential topics of that firm, Moorgate is the one.
I would have gone to ULaw even if my firm hadn’t chosen it already – the curriculum, tutors and employability programme are really well geared to those looking to work in the City. To be honest, people doing the GDL or LPC are there for vocational reasons, so you want to know you’ll get the requisite training, resources and contacts from your law school to obtain a training contract. I already had a training contract prior to starting the LPC, but even for those of us who did, the extra-curricular courses and initiatives to fine-tune your office, social and professional skills were really useful.
What was your experience like at the University of Law? What’s great is that they don’t just set you up to pass your exams and know your practice – the tutors are also really good at explaining what to expect in your day-to-day work. It wasn’t just about learning legal principles; in tutorials you would discuss the actual commercial implications of certain scenarios. Tutors would share their experiences, too – they’d all been in practice so they knew exactly what you’d come up against as a trainee. As well as allowing you to go into the job with your eyes open, it also provided a humorous element to tutorials, which helped to bring it all to life.
The social side of things was impressive, too. There were quite a few socials organised by the students and you build strong friendships within your tutorial groups – some of my lasting friendships were formed there. You can develop a study regime that suits you – some people would come into uni three days a week, some more and some less. Ultimately, you take from it what you want, but it’s a collaborative environment where people are on the same page and welcome working together to discuss topics. City firms tend to hire sociable, outgoing people anyway, so the university fosters and promotes that mentality.
What were the top three things you learnt at ULaw? Listen to, trust in and learn from other people’s experiences. The anecdotes, commercial insight and knowledge you’re given by tutors and peers are essential to your understanding of law on a practical level.
- Structure your legal advice and put it into a digestible format. The law can be complex, so your language and presentation needs to be as easy to understand as possible.
- Focus on what you’re specifically interested in. I narrowed my field of interest toward real estate – because I learnt that you’ll never really get the best out of a particular practice area if it’s just one of many on your radar. Learn to close doors in order to open others.
And what are the top three things you’ve learnt since graduating? Manage your time and prioritise. This is something you’re not formally taught as part of the course but when you’re a trainee, people pull you from lots of directions and you need to appreciate what’s realistic
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Even if you’re not feeling that confident, it’s essential to ask for clarification, as going ahead without it is likely to end in wasted time
- Look at the value of your time spent on certain tasks. This is particularly true once you’ve qualified – you have to know your time’s being spent efficiently. Control your own experiences and the type of work you’re doing as far as possible.
If you could share one piece of advice with current students applying for training contracts, what would it be? Two things: firstly, make sure you submit a structured and interesting application showing every aspect of your experience and personality. Secondly, take care that, before you start your applications, you’ve really invested time and effort into researching the firm, its practice areas and, most importantly, how you’d fit in with the culture. Consider how your skills and experience make you a better candidate than those applying for the same job.