It’s the second week of my vacation placement and it’s approaching 19:30. My trainee buddy is shouting at me to make a decision, nothing in front of me is making sense and there’s a huge clock on the wall telling me that my deadline is fast approaching. There’s paper all over the floor because tables have been upturned and the notes I made on a whiteboard are being ridiculed by the rest of my team. The department next door are having a similar experience and the other vacation placement students are all close to hysterics at the pressure. In a last gasp attempt at success, someone opens a box and finds the thing we’ve all been looking for; the key to the escape room door!
I have spent my three weeks with Pinsent Masons doing contentious work in the Glasgow office and, contrary to popular belief, it’s been nothing like the scenario described above. My team, Construction Advisory and Disputes, have had a constant stream of difficult, high-value work but have given me opportunities to get involved at every turn. As well as work for my supervisor and trainees, I’ve been instructed by various partners and senior associates, all of whom were happy to have an extra set of eyes on their work. This work was mainly research based but to give me an additional insight into why alternative dispute resolution is best, a call to the court administrators was added to my schedule. After those three minutes, I was a firm convert to ADR in all its glory!
My research tasks spanned everything from road works and arbitration enforcement to wood chips and hot tubs. From this, I’ve learned that variety is always good, and that the least enticing tasks are often the most interesting. “Hot-tubbing” is actually a technique of witness examination, which I only came to discover after an ill-conceived Google of “hot tub construction” brought odd looks from those walking past. The less exhilarating sounding wood chips meanwhile took me on an overnight research mission where I changed my mind at least five times before delivering a piece of work I was particularly proud of.
This work was always appreciated and it was a pleasure to see the letter or content you had drafted being sent out to clients and third parties. Often this was with minor changes but, as with all junior team members, I was not immune to the infamous “red pen.” One particular email was returned looking like an abstract painting but the feedback that accompanied it was constructive and light-hearted, complete with pointers and a further task to apply them to.
Overall, my vacation placement provided a wonderful insight into Pinsent Masons and the culture that permeates everything they do. Everyone was friendly and approachable and keen to pass on the tricks of their trade. It has become the opposite of the escape room I mentioned above; I’m rather disappointed that I have to leave so soon!
Every summer, Pinsent Masons and Birmingham Law School welcome a group of first year students to our Birmingham office for an exclusive work experience programme. The participants spend 1 week in their dedicated department gaining hands-on experience, a chance to network with our lawyers and an opportunity to see what working in a commercial law firm is like.
We are Josiah Senu, Amelia Rawlinson, Edward Plaut, Katie Nicholas & Alice Cutler and we participated in the Pinsent Masons Work Experience Programme in London from 22-26 August 2016.
Quite simply extraordinary – that was the instant feeling I got when I first entered Pinsent Masons, and by Friday I was wishing for one more week.