Name: Ben Martin
Firm: Osborne Clarke
Position: Trainee solicitor
Degree: Philosophy and Politics
University: University of Bristol
Hobbies: Climbing, making things, brewing beer, playing music
Current department: Commercial and Regulatory Disputes
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 16/8
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
My interest in becoming a solicitor came from my degree. I wanted a career which was challenging and required the use of logical thought and lateral thinking to solve problems. In addition, I wanted to work in a constantly evolving area that is closely linked to politics and where you need respond to economic, political, and social change.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
The fact that I wasn’t doing a law degree made it more difficult to find out about the process of applying for a training contract. I also had to get up to speed with all the tips and tricks that you need to use at the law fairs to make sure you stand out. Navigating the presentation evenings was also a challenge.
Initially I had to do quite a bit of research and ask plenty of questions to get to a position where I knew exactly what was going on.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
Overall, I found that most interviewers asked challenging, but reasonable, questions. However, at my first ever interview (around the time of the Arab Spring) a partner started proceedings by asking “What is the difference between the situation in Syria and the situation in Libya?”
I put forward several points about Russian vetoes and “varied Western interests in the region”, before being promptly given a potted history of the Middle-East and a summary forecast of future developments and regime changes in the region.
After the interview I was in a newsagents, and a paper had an article on exactly the topic I had been questioned on. I think the moral here is to always allow some time on the morning of your interview to digest the day’s news.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
So far, I have been involved in a wide range of disputes. I have worked on a major health and safety case, managing and reviewing a large number of documents we have been sent by the client.
I also spent a week working intensely with colleagues, clients and counsel on an expedited trial. The trial ultimately settled, but it was great to really throw myself into a matter and become immersed in the facts of the case, whilst trying to unearth information to build and strengthen our case.
Finally, I have been involved with some business development and research into new technologies, such as driverless cars and associated liability issues. The team does a lot of work in the digital business sector around data breaches and new technology, which is very interesting and exciting.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
My job is interesting and I feel challenged each day – but this should go without saying if you work at a good firm. I think the most enjoyable aspect for me is coming into work and getting on with my colleagues. On a ‘work’ level it means that I feel comfortable asking questions and approaching those supervising me, which ultimately improves the work we do and aids my training. It also means that I can have a chat and a laugh when I’m at work, in what is otherwise a very serious profession.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
Despite starting on my first day with no experience working in a professional organisation, I was immediately treated as a fully-functioning member of the team and was asked my opinions by colleagues. At first, it was slightly daunting, but this approach meant that I learnt all the basics quickly and was able to get up to speed in a short space of time.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
It’s quite a good one actually; it is about Osborne Clarke’s Wellbeing Week. Wellbeing Week is all about ensuring mental and physical health for people who work here. There are many activities being run, such as yoga and Pilates classes, as well as mental health awareness talks. This particular email is about free fruit that it going to be brought around the office.
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
This is an easy one – the trainees’ table at lunch (12.45 in the canteen).
Describe your training partner in three words.
Imminent, mid-seat, and review. I am half way through my two year programme, so very conscious my review with my training partner is just around the corner!
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
- I used to box.
- My grandpa’s dog, Pickles, found the Jules Rimet (World Cup) Trophy in a hedge after it had been stolen.
- While on holiday in Ayia Napa after my A-levels, I came second in a Mr Universe competition. The winner had an uncanny resemblance to a young Boris Johnson.
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
I’m interested in design and architecture so possibly something in either of those fields.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Only apply for a job at a place you could see yourself working.