Alumna Dana Cook studied the LPC at our Guildford campus before starting her trainee contract in London. We caught up with Dana to discuss her experience of becoming a trainee solicitor and get her advice for students looking to follow in her footsteps.
I studied the civil rights movement during A-Level History, which I found really inspiring as it taught me how the law can make a difference. I had also always been interested in legal tv shows, movies and books. Both of these things inspired my initial interest in law, and once I realised how varied the profession is, I knew I wanted to pursue it.
I chose to study at The University of Law mainly due to recommendations from previous alumni. The tutors have a great reputation, and the specific campus where I studied (Guildford) is a great place to spend the year. I attended a ULaw open day and it was a great insight into what studying the LPC would be like and what I could expect.
At school, I loved history and English, so I knew I wanted a career which involved writing. I thought that might be in journalism or something similar. Then I realised that all the subjects and skills I enjoyed at school were applicable to a career in law. I, therefore, chose to do a law degree and loved the varied modules I could study.
I am currently a trainee solicitor with Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP in the London office. For my training contract, I have to complete four different six-month seats. I have already completed my first seat in dispute resolution with the Construction and Engineering Team. I am currently working in real estate with the Developers and Investors Team. Currently, my day-to-day varies a lot as I am given tasks by all members of the team. My main tasks involve Land Registry submissions, drafting letters, submitting Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) returns, research notes and lease negotiations. We normally have a team catch up call once a week and I have a one-to-one call with my supervisor every week.
I secured my training contract whilst in my final year at university after attending a vacation scheme with Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP. However, some of my friends who attended ULaw used the Employability Service and were given support with their applications and interviews.
Don't give up if you are looking for a training contract. It is normal to receive a lot of rejections. Persevere and focus on each application, and set aside enough time to complete it to the best of your ability. Think of it as finding the right firm for you as much as the firm finding the right candidates. Be adaptable. Network – use LinkedIn, attend insight days etc.
Dan O'Boyle was my tutor for dispute resolution and he was really helpful and willing to explain things as much as we needed. He pushed us to do our best.
A positive work/life balance can be hard to manage as a trainee solicitor, but overall, if you stay organised, you will be able to do both. I would recommend buying a diary or writing to-do lists every day, prioritising urgent tasks. There are times when work will be busier than normal, but if you choose a firm that has a good culture and focuses on their employees having a good work/life balance, then you are also able to enjoy your evenings.
Studying the LPC allowed me to apply the knowledge I had learnt during my degree to practical tasks I do as a trainee solicitor. The amount of work you do in a short space of time prepares you and teaches you key time management and organisation skills.
My advice to law students is to do your research and utilise all the resources given to you, whether that be in school, university or via extra-curricular activities. It is great to try and get some experience within a law firm so that you can get a feel of how it works in practice. Don’t compare yourself to others; there is no set way of getting into law as a career.
Let us set you up for success by studying the LPC now.