Name: Rosie Allen
Training Contract Start Date: 3 May 2021
Current Seat: Corporate and Commercial
What was my route to securing my training contract?
My academic training involved studying an undergraduate degree in Business and Management, my Graduate Diploma in Law and my Legal Practice Course. I worked as a Product Specialist at the Apple Store in Leicester, a Copyright Infringement Advisor at a music licencing company and an Account Manager at a pensions and wealth management company all before ever stepping foot in a law firm! I started at BHW as a paralegal in the residential property department while I studied my LPC part time before securing the promotion to Trainee Solicitor.
What is an average day as a trainee like?
Usually, the day starts with checking any emails that have come in overnight before checking my calendar and the calendar of the Partner that I work for so that I can be prepared for any client calls or meetings during the day.
Typically, a day will also include taking notes on 2-3 client calls and this may be coupled with an explanatory training session from the Partner that I work for around the structure of the deal that the call is about. I also regularly proofread a variety of documents that have been drafted by my colleagues, ranging from emails to lengthy Shareholders Agreements and Share Purchase Agreements. Recently I have been working on a buyback of shares by a company which has involved research into the rules around the process for this, as well as drafting all the necessary documents, arranging for signature and completion of the documents using DocuSign and submitting documents for stamping by HMRC and filing at Companies House.
What do I enjoy most about my training contract at BHW Solicitors?
I really love how much exposure you get to high level work and the opportunity to work with senior Partners at the firm. The size of BHW means that you can really get to know all of your colleagues and get involved with the operation of the firm. I have the chance to get involved in policy and procedure changes as well as business development and networking activities.
What seats have I completed so far and what have I gained from the different departments?
My first seat was in Residential Conveyancing where I had already been a paralegal for a year and seven months. Conveyancing is very fast paced and there is a lot of client contact. The seat gave me the chance to really hone my organisational and time management skills and helped me practice attention to detail whilst also working under intense time pressures. My experience in the Corporate and Commercial department has allowed me to practice attention to detail when proof reading and researching complex legal documents and processes, as well as providing me with the opportunity to work with corporate clients and experience drafting legal documents and complex clauses in agreements.
Do you have much contact with clients?
One thing I really loved about my time in Residential Property was how much you got to speak to clients. I had previously done a lot of work in customer facing roles and this really helped me to easily build rapport and show empathy to clients throughout their transactions which, for many of them, involved them making the most expensive purchase of their lives. You also have to deal with many third parties such as estate agents, mortgage brokers and banks, it’s vital experience in my opinion! There is less direct client contact for Trainee’s in the Corporate and Commercial department, but as you develop throughout the seat you do get the chance to speak to clients more.
What has surprised you most about your trainee experience so far?
How much of my LPC course I’ve been able to recall and put into practice during my working day. Studying Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) as an elective was a last-minute switch for me and I am so glad I made it. I’d say M&A work makes up a huge chunk of the work that the corporate team does here at BHW and having a solid understanding of the stages of a transaction and how the process operates has really helped me hit the ground running.
What has been the highlight of this seat so far?
I’ve loved getting to know our corporate clients and understanding their businesses. I’ve worked on projects to produce and improve Terms & Conditions for a few different businesses now and I’ve really enjoyed understanding the fundamentals of how the business operates and the story behind how the company has developed and intends to develop further in the future. The hours might be longer in the Corporate and Commercial department but trips out to have meetings with clients at their premises and listening to how they’ve become successful are a real bonus in my eyes.
What is the culture of the firm like?
Staff members at all levels are very approachable and easy to talk to. Everyone is always willing to help answer a question and you genuinely feel like Partners want you to learn and get exposure to as much work as you can.
We have a running club on a Wednesday and one of the Partners has also been delivering lunchtime Yoga! There’s a real sense of comradery among everyone to make sure the team, department and the firm overall delivers really great work for our clients and builds on the great reputation that our firm has.
What is my top piece of advice for those trying to secure a training contract?
Don’t give up!
It can really feel like you’ve sent out hundreds of applications and that you’re either being constantly rejected or just not hearing back anything at all. Try and self-evaluate, even if you get no feedback from the firm you’ve applied to, think about whether there’s any way you could improve your CV or covering letter. I spent a long time thinking about how the skills I gained in my previous non-law jobs evidenced why I would be a great lawyer and now I really see these skills as my ‘Unique Selling Point’ as a soon to be newly qualified solicitor. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve redrafted my CV over the years, but it’s not just a paper exercise, it helps you understand your skills and prepares you for those self-focused interview questions.
Think about what a lawyer does day in and day out and try and apply your previous skills and experience to this. Attention to detail is a vital attribute for a successful lawyer at BHW, try and make sure you can demonstrate examples of when you’ve had to put this skill into practice.