Trainee Solicitor at Halfords Group Plc
Tell us a bit about your educational background:
My introduction to the profession was fairly traditional. After studying Law, Psychology and English Literature at A level, I made the decision to go on to study Law at the University of Liverpool. I absolutely loved studying the subject and graduated with a 2:1 LLB (Bachelor of Law with Honors) in 2017.
After graduating, I decided to spend some time travelling around Australia and South East Asia before returning to study the Legal Practice Course (“LPC”) in September 2018. I studied the course full-time at the University of Law, Birmingham. In 2019, I obtained a commendation in my LPC as well as an LLM in Professional Legal Practice.
Following this, I secured a paralegal role at Halfords Group Plc (“Halfords”) in July 2019 and commenced by Training Contract with them in January 2020.
How did you hear about working in-house?
Working in-house was never something that I was greatly informed of throughout the course of my studies and consequently I had not considered working in-house until the opportunity arose.
The University of Law offers a careers service and an email was sent to all those studying the employment law elective, advertising an employment paralegal role at Halfords. It wasn’t until this point that I considered an in-house career. I feel, from my experience, universities concentrate more on private practice experience as opposed to emphasising the great opportunities that training in-house can offer.
"When working in-house you have a chance to be a key part of the company’s future success and you are able to clearly see how your legal output is used by the company."
What are the distinctive features of working in-house?
There are a number of distinctive features, but the one that stands out for me is the development of commercial awareness that comes with the role. Commercial awareness is an increasingly important skill for any lawyer and whilst working in-house, you develop a thorough understanding of the running, aspirations and challenges of the business first-hand; something that often may not come with a role in private practice.
When working in-house you have a chance to be a key part of the company’s future success and you are able to clearly see how your legal output is used by the company.
"...although this element is challenging I am grateful to be in this position, as I feel it has exposed me to a greater amount of work that may not have been available were there other trainees in the team."
What challenges have you faced?
One of the challenges I have faced is that I am the only individual in the legal team at a junior level, which ultimately means it can be more difficult to form a network of peers. If you are training in private practice in a city firm, then it is likely that you have begun your training contract with a cohort of 15+ trainees.
With mine being the first training contract Halfords have provided, it means there are no other trainees in the team and ultimately I am the first person to have been in this position.
Although my colleagues are extremely supportive and at no point have I felt alone, I feel this is a challenge that many juniors may face when training in-house. However, although this element is challenging I am grateful to be in this position, as I feel it has exposed me to a greater amount of work that may not have been available were there other trainees in the team.
What advice would you give to someone looking to go in-house? (top tips)
Research the company that you are applying to, including its stakeholders, the sector, and the company’s beliefs and objectives. It is fundamental that not only are you a good fit for the company, but also that they are a good fit for you.
If you are looking to train in-house, don’t be put off if you do not find an abundance of in-house training roles immediately. Roughly 3% of training contracts offered every year are in-house, so it may be best to first seek an in-house paralegal role. I find this is beneficial as it allows you to get a feel of working in-house and be more prepared for what is to come once your training contract does commence.
Network and take every opportunity to engage with legal graduate recruiters. This is a great way to ensure you are notified of any opportunities or exclusive events which may help with your applications.
"As an in-house trainee there is the chance to take on more responsibility at work. There is also a varied workload within the different areas of law."
What do you love about being in-house?
The thing I love the most about working in-house is the variety of workload that I am presented with each day. Across my training contract, I will have exposure to commercial litigation, commercial contracts, employment and property seats. However, my workload will not be limited to the seat which I am undertaking at the time. When working in-house you have to be flexible and adapt to the needs of the business, which means the day could start with reviewing a commercial contract and end with preparing for an employment tribunal. As an in-house trainee there is the chance to take on more responsibility at work. There is also a varied workload within the different areas of law.
Another thing I love about working in-house is the proximity that I have to the client, which offers a sense of continuity within your work, as well as job stability. I would massively encourage anyone who is considering it, to apply for a role in-house, as I am certain you would love it as much as I do.