ULaw alumna Rhianna Fairhurst studied the LLB and LPC/LLM at our Bloomsbury campus and has gone on to become a trainee solicitor at Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team. We caught up with Rhianna to discuss her role and how we set her up for success.
The legal profession was always something that caught my interest, but I did not believe that I was smart enough to have a successful career in law. At the time of applying for university, I had two pathways that I considered following – fashion design or law. They are extremely different, but I have since realised they both require a creative mindset.
I chose law in the end, following a few career fairs and university open days. Once I had heard from professionals and saw the huge variety of routes I could take in the legal field, I realised that this was the option for me.
Encouragement from family and friends that I had the ability/mindset to be successful was also a huge factor in choosing law.
I chose to study at The University of Law after attending an open day at the Bloomsbury campus. I was inspired after hearing from several tutors and current students. All of the tutors that taught me during the course had professional backgrounds, with a number still practising and tutoring part-time. This was great for my education as they were able to dawn on personal experience and give real life examples.
The University also uses high quality teaching materials that provide a realistic and professional approach to the legal system. This is one of the mains reasons that I chose to stay at the University for both my LPC/LLM and Professional Skills Course (PSC).
When I began my degree, I saw myself as having a career in criminal law. I was unsure whether I wanted to go down the solicitor or barrister route. It soon became clear to me that I found criminal really interesting but I did not see my career going this way. I am excited by working in a variety of legal areas and following discussions with tutors and some online research, working as a solicitor in-house was what I was aimed for.
During my time at ULaw, I attended a couple of group presentations by the Employability Team as well as using materials they provided. This was extremely helpful in providing guidance on when to apply for training contracts, what to include in applications and CVs and details on other potential career paths that I could follow if I decided that I did not want to follow the solicitor/barrister route.
All of the tutors that I came across during my time at ULaw were all extremely helpful, approachable and friendly, teaching the students like professionals rather that ‘students’.
During my time at ULaw, we were always provided with real life examples and real-life solutions to problems presented. I may not have appreciated it as much at the time, but as soon as I started my career, I found myself thinking back to some of these examples and tasks that and finding that I knew how to tackle certain issues as a result of the way we were taught.
The tasks set by ULaw focussed on using skills that would be needed day-to-day as a solicitor (such as drafting commercial terms, interviewing, negotiating, litigation etc.) rather than being essay heavy. I found that this really set me up for success as I knew exactly what to expect when walking into my first legal role.
I currently work as an in-house trainee solicitor with the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team. We have a small legal team that is responsible for a huge variety of legal transactions. Each day the area of law in which we work differs, we can move from commercial law (such as sponsorship and licensing contracts), to property, construction and employment. Every day is different which is great for keeping me engaged and on my toes. I have always been a big fan of motorsport and consider myself to be extremely lucky that I have started to build a career for myself doing a job I love in an industry that I love.
I was very lucky finding my training contract. I was successful in securing a job as a paralegal with the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team. At the time of joining the company, they did not have any trainee solicitors and they had not previously offered training contracts. But with support from the company, and the legal team, they registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) so they could offer me the opportunity to complete a training contract with them.
My advice for students looking for a training contract is to start applying early – a lot of firms advertise for trainees a couple of years prior to the year of intake. I would also say take as much advice as possible from ULaw tutors and the Employability Team – they are all super approachable and helpful. Just keep applying and do not be disheartened by rejection. There are a lot of applicants applying for each training contract, but you will find the right opportunity eventually.
Many things are rewarding about my job. These can be little things such as a successful negotiation tasks, to bigger things such as being successful in regulatory disputes or helping with the contractual negotiations in relation to new commercial partners. The most rewarding part of my current role is when the team do well over the race weekend, and you know that you have helped in getting to that position (even if only in a small way).
Everyday has its own challenges. Motorsport is a very fast paced industry (excuse the pun) and there are moments where we can get a call at 9am on a Friday morning before a race where something needs to be completed as soon as possible, or at 6pm on Friday night for a task that needs to be completed before the weekend. This is a challenge, but you always get a moment of relief and a feeling of success when it is completed.
I have learnt so much from my time at Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team. It has taught me how to work fast under pressure and how to work effectively as part of a team. I have had experience in such a wide variety of law, including: sports law, commercial and corporate law, property law, construction law, employment law, media law and regulatory law.
A career in law will be extremely challenging at times, both physically and emotionally, however the moments of success make it all worth it. Find an area that you love, it will be it so much easier to push through the harder moments if you love the job that you are doing.
Follow in Rhianna’s footsteps and take your first step towards a legal career by studying the LLB with us.