I originally wanted to study politics or international relations but I thought there were more opportunities in law instead. On top of that, the skills that I would gain from a law degree would be more transferable. I researched ULaw and others in terms of the course coverage, careers service and examination methods. I chose ULaw because of its long-standing position and reputation across the legal industry. I also really like the open-book exam method and thought it placed more emphasis on a student’s application of legal skills rather than functioning as a memory test.
My early ambition was to get a training contract at an international law firm. This has not changed. I hope to become a well-established lawyer in my chosen field and hopefully at a magic circle law firm. I hope that through my role, I can incorporate elements of my current post as a Legal Technologist, since firms are now moving to include a legal tech seat in training contracts.
As a Legal Technologist I initiate and maintain legal-tech projects. I also attend vendor demos, giving demos to fee earners and clients. This involves working closely with other teams such as IT and Legal Risk to implement solutions across the Manchester Hub. Testing new legal-tech solutions and training in new legal-tech solutions is essential to my contributing to the expansion across the firm.
To obtain my current role, I attended a career event hosted by Herbert Smith Freehills in Manchester. There, I met an aspiring Lawyer who was already working at Freshfields as a Paralegal. After the pandemic had started, she recommended I apply for a Paralegal role and the Legal Technologist role. I then applied through LinkedIn, and at the time, I had just finished my MSc dissertation on legal tech for which I received a distinction. Whilst I was researching, I was really interested in legal tech and the impact that it had on law firms. Therefore, I decided to apply for the legal tech role at Freshfields. I then contacted Catherine Morgan from ULaw Manchester and she proof-read my covering letter and CV and I prepared for my interview with John Watkins. I was successful in getting the role.
I highly recommend Catherine Morgan and John Watkins. Catherine Morgan is incredible at what she does. I worked very closely with Catherine. She was very understanding of my situation and she always helped me as far as she could, even during the holidays. She gave me straightforward advice as to how I can improve my written application skills. Even when my applications were terrible, she gave me immense support and we’d always have a great time and she made doing applications easier and more straightforward. My Real Estate Tutor – Helen Graley was also exceptionally helpful. At the time I was going through some difficulties in my personal life and Helen would often take the time to explain certain concepts to me and always checked-up on me. She also taught concepts incredibly well and hence my grades got significantly better towards the end of the course.
I also accessed the Mental Health Support/Counselling service via Carey, who was great and she made me realise what was important to me. She helped me to begin my journey in building better self-esteem. Suki Bains from ULaw was particularly great. She would often see me on campus and catch-up with me and see if I was doing okay. The tutors that I’d also love to mention are: Mike Hall, Mike Lliff, Veronica Oldfield (Careers), Sian Kilgannon. Managing LPC, extracurriculars (organising Chinese New Year in Scottish Parliament, joining social mobility organisations) was hard but it was worth it. I am a keen believer – the more you put into something, the more you will get out of it.
I never thought I would work for a magic circle firm. I have been fortunate enough to have experiences in a global organisation such as Vodafone but also while volunteering with the Scottish Youth Parliament and now working at Freshfields. There is no one single proud moment because these are accumulations of the things that I have done to improve my career and there is so much more to look forward to.
In my team, we have a good work/life balance, which I found surprising - especially at a magic circle firm. Although, I work 9-5pm, our team will and can stay behind to work on urgent matters. There are some days that are incredibly busy but the culture is great and that is something I didn’t expect at Freshfields.
In terms of what dictates success, I would say resilience and grit - even though I am still looking for a training contract - I believe that the reason I got my job was that I had resilience and grit. In terms of technical or legal skills, these are things that your firm will teach you but they can’t train your mindset only you can do that. You must want to be successful. How much you put into your work/your career will be a determinant of your success and you should place emphasis on your soft skills such as teamwork, communication, dealing with difficult people and basic IT skills. These skills all demonstrate how flexible and adaptable you can be. When you are working for an organisation, you will no doubt use all these skills and you must be well equipped before you can take on more responsibility and more challenges. I call it the AMP principle. A partner once told me this during a networking event: AUTHENTICITY, PASSION and MOTIVATION.
Ask yourself – is a magic circle firm where you want to be? There is nothing worse than working at a place where you don’t feel happy or valued. Is this firm where you want to be? What do you want to achieve? Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? If you can’t answer these questions, then you need to make sure that you have an answer otherwise when it comes to interviews, your interviewer will see through it and they will be able to tell that this is not what you truly want.
A law degree is great and brings a lot of opportunities but is this truly something you want to do? People don’t become successful without putting enormous time and effort into their job applications. Do you honestly have a passion for law or have you been pressurised into working in the legal field purely because you’ve studied law?
This one speaks for itself but again – a two year training contract is a long time and your mental health must come first. Therefore, ask yourself - can you commit to this at this firm?
For a legal tech role it is possible to apply to Freshfields or indeed to any firm but again, you need to do thorough research. If you fail to do this your interviewers will know and it will show that you are not credible. ULaw organises events for students who are interested in different areas of law such as Criminal, Family or non-commercial based subjects. The university tries to organise work placements so that students have the chance to apply internally, such as the Fieldfisher or the RPC scheme or breakfast with Trowers and Hamlins.
In the future, I think legal technology will continue to increase and there will be more openings for Legal Technologists. Be the best version of yourself before you go on to achieve your goals. Keep a track of your goals, make your steps small and measured and trust yourself and the process. I truly believe that when one is applying for training contracts, we all have our own journey. I used to be upset that I didn’t get a training contract straight after my undergraduate studies but now I know that better things were meant to come and I had the best interview experience with Freshfields.
Find out how you too can set yourself up for success by coming to one of our Open Days.