I studied law at Sheffield University, emerged with a Master’s in commercial law, completed my LPC at Nottingham Trent and in 2008 commenced my training contract. I qualified last year into the Dispute Resolution Service team, working on the contentious side of the Projects & Construction group.
Joining Pinsent Masons on a training contract was a very easy choice to make. It was just the type of medium-sized firm I was looking for – everybody seemed very open and welcoming. I did a two-week vacation placement prior to applying, and that definitely was a big influence on my decision. I was placed in the corporate team and really got on with the work and the people. After that, I pretty much knew that I wanted to join.
Getting used to the construction side of things is interesting – I’m still trying to get my head around all of the jargon. At the moment I’m doing a massive disclosure exercise, which involves looking through loads and loads of documents online. Everyone in the team is hands-on – the work’s distributed evenly. You’re never given anything that is beyond your capability, but at the same time, you’re also encouraged at each stage to take on things that will stretch you.
The amount of client contact you can expect varies from area to area, and also depends on where you are in your career. At one stage of my training contract I spent six months on direct secondment to a client’s offices. I was effectively treated as just one of their legal team, which was a really great experience. There’s a lasting benefit in that it changes your view of your client and their expectations.
The low moments would I suppose be the times when you work very long hours – but then that's also turned around to a high when you’ve completed the work and you get that real sense of achievement. Especially if the client appreciates it, which they usually do. Good work seldom goes unnoticed.
The training is excellent, and pretty much continuous. I attend sessions weekly, twice a week sometimes. You’ll be specifically invited to training events that are aimed at your level – but you’re free to attend any that you think might be relevant to you.
Recently I’ve asked for help in improving my Spanish, as a result of which I’m shortly due to start having lessons. It’s quite unrelated to what I do, but it’ll be quite useful nonetheless, as a number of clients are Spanish speaking. The amount of support you can count on in following up your interests is way beyond what I expected.
It’s also true on the social side. There’s a great variety of activities already, and if there’s anything new that you want to set up, then the firm will support you however they can. When I was doing my training contract, I ran the firm’s London netball team, playing other local companies or firms. Of course, I don’t have so much time for it now. But I do try to help out when I can.
My main piece of advice to graduates would be to always focus on the firm. Each is different, and identifying what those differences are can save you applying to loads of firms. If you can appreciate the particular ways in which Pinsent Masons is different, it’s certainly going to help you in your application.