Trainee Solicitor at Toni & Guy
One of the reasons I undertook a law degree, was because I wanted to prove others wrong. I wanted to let people know that regardless of your background, you can succeed. Achieving what others thought you couldn’t, is one of the best ways to silence the negative voices. In all honesty, my expectation of law was based either from fictional TV series, movies and crime thriller novels; which as one can imagine, did not live up to reality. This is something I quickly learnt myself. Despite law being different to my expectations, I still enjoy it!
"I have strong A-levels, a 2:1 from the University of Sheffield and a distinction from BPP Law School, surely securing a training contract was the easy part? Wrong."
Much of my legal experience throughout university was in criminal and family law. When starting out, this is where I thought my career would end up. However, along the way I had a change of heart and I am now a trainee solicitor at Toni & Guy, focusing on general commercial law.
Law covers a range of disciplines and I think that it is important, if you are thinking of pursuing a career in law, to find where you truly fit. It’s okay to change your mind and I would recommend that if you are unsure, you try different areas – you’ll find that the skills you gain are transferable and you shouldn’t be afraid to change.
My route into law was fairly traditional. I starting with completing my A-levels, then university, and then finally the LPC; the obvious next step was to undergo a training contract. I have strong A-levels, a 2:1 from the University of Sheffield and a distinction from BPP Law School, surely securing a training contract was the easy part? Wrong. Training contract applications are tiring and draining, rejections (although inevitable) never get easier, and self-doubt can grow daily.
"I wouldn’t compare your journey to others; comparison really is the thief of joy. There are many routes to qualifying and your route will be the route that’s right for you."
The reality is that it can be a constant mental battle, in an era where you cannot help but compare your life to the lives you see on Instagram and Twitter. Ultimately, it comes down to a person’s tenacity and how much you really want it in order to persevere through the struggle. I wouldn’t compare your journey to others; comparison really is the thief of joy. There are many routes to qualifying and your route will be the route that’s right for you. Enjoy the process, continue learning and don’t give up, because it will be worth it in the end.
When I finished my LPC, I spent a few more months looking for legal work and then I decided to take a break and do something different, whist maintaining my goal of qualifying. When completing applications for commercial practices, I was constantly faced with the question about commercial awareness, so I thought I should go and understand what this concept really means.
I went to work in the finance team of a PR agency (KCD Worldwide) for one year before spending 6 months in South America. At KCD Worldwide, I developed my commercial acumen by gaining a practical understanding of how to solve problems whilst keeping the business in mind. It was here that I learnt how a business is run and how to maximise profit. It was also where I was first exposed to in-house lawyers. Prior to my time at KCD Worldwide, this was something I hadn’t really considered. At Sheffield University, we were pushed towards magic circle law firms and therefore we weren't exposed to in-house career options. It fascinated me that a small team of lawyers would deal with everything (okay, outsourcing is a thing, but the variety in our lawyer’s day really caught my attention). It was then that I decided that this would be something I would explore more when I returned from my travels.
I secured a paralegal position at Toni & Guy in October 2018 and began my training contract with them in March 2019. At Toni & Guy, we try to mimic the traditional training contract by having four six-month seats. However when working in-house, you have to be flexible and adapt to the needs of the business and as such I pick up a bit of everything.
"There are many routes to qualifying and your route will be the route that’s right for you. Enjoy the process, continue learning and don’t give up, because it will be worth it in the end."
I really enjoy being in-house; I like the variety that comes in a given day. In fact, I can be discussing advertising, intellectual property and distribution contracts all in one morning. It is also great to be able to see the end result of something you have worked on - for example witnessing the success of an event where you have worked on the contracts behind that event. Another positive is the feeling that I am constantly learning, as I often I have to research and learn something completely new in order to help with a query from different areas of the business. It is for these reasons and more that I am looking forward to the next 18 months of my training contract. After that, I’ll be heading back to the drawing board to decide where I will be spending my first few years as a NQ.