Harry Briffitt, Reed Smith

Name: Harry Briffitt

Firm: Reed Smith

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Chemistry (MChem)

University: Manchester

Hobbies: Skiing, Rugby, Photography

Current department: Banking & Finance

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 5/3

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

Towards the end of my degree I became increasingly interested in how businesses used their resources to generate value, not only for stakeholders but the wider economy. I wanted a career that would expose me to this day-to-day, but that maintained technical and analytical elements that I could apply myself to.

What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?

Having studied Chemistry, and without a great deal of experience in the City, convincing firms that I was committed to a career in law.

What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?

Harry Briffitt, Reed SmithI was asked for my thoughts on the duty to rescue, recognised more widely under civil law jurisdictions.

At the time, I’d never heard of tort law, let alone studied it, and admittedly did not answer well. I seem to remember talking unconvincingly about moral dilemmas faced by a prospective rescuer.

Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…

During my seat in banking and finance I’ve assisted predominantly with fund finance and real estate finance transactions.

The fund finance team acts for a number of high-profile lenders providing financing to private investment funds (usually on a short term basis and in anticipation of the fund drawing down from its investors). The real estate finance team acts both lender- and borrower-side in a wide range of property acquisition, development and refinancing transactions.

The group also advises banks and private equity sponsors on leveraged/acquisition finance deals.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

Given the variety of the work carried out by the group, the client base is extremely broad. This means you get to work with some incredibly interesting companies and people. It’s also rewarding to know that our work helps to facilitate the success of our clients’ businesses.

What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?

Quite how seriously the various departmental bake-offs are taken.

Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?

It’s an email we’ve been copied into, from our Jersey counsel to their counterparts, in relation to Jersey security being taken in a fund finance deal we are working on. There has been some toing and froing on the documents but we’re hoping they are now in agreed form (or close thereto!).

Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?

The summer party. Or anywhere in the office the day after.

Describe your training partner in three words.

Technical. Composed. Approachable.

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).

  • My first job was in a butcher shop, plucking Christmas turkeys.
  • I’ve skied into the crater of a dormant volcano.
  • David Hasselhoff is my hero.

If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?

Possibly something in photography or film production. Although probably pharmaceuticals.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?

Make sure you’ve considered (and are prepared to explain) before you walk into an interview what it is about a career in law that interests and excites you. Also, be yourself (however clichéd that may sound).

It might seem like a training contract offer is the be all and end all, but try to use the application and interview process to figure out the type of firm at which you’d actually enjoy working.

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