Amarjit Kaur Dhinsa, Addleshaw Goddard

I decided to train as a solicitor because I enjoy the intellectual challenge of applying the law to complex situations and the creativity involved in thinking up solutions to problems that are of fundamental importance to our future.

Name: Amarjit Kaur Dhinsa
Firm: Addleshaw Goddard
Position: Trainee solicitor
Degree: Law with Business Studies
University: University of Birmingham
Where did you study the GDL and/or the LPC? College of Law, Moorgate, London
Hobbies: Drawing, painting, poker, travel and reading about management theories
Department: Financial regulation

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
The law dictates the rules by which we live our lives and conduct business. I decided to train as a solicitor because I enjoy the intellectual challenge of applying the law to complex situations and the creativity involved in thinking up solutions to problems that are of fundamental importance to our future.

Why did you choose commercial law?
I embarked on a joint honours degree as I wished to combine my interests in law and business. I felt a career in commercial law was the natural progression and would allow me to continue nurturing those interests. It also offers me all the things I want in a job: intellectual challenges, plenty of interaction with clients and the opportunity to be involved in things that are current and cutting edge.

What’s been the highlight of your training contract so far?
Being involved in an investigation relating to potential market abuse. This was an exciting insight into the intricacies of the broker-dealer side of the financial services sector. I sat in on all the interviews and was encouraged to ask questions throughout. It was a great chance to put my ‘client interviewing skills’ from the LPC into practice.

What does your typical day involve?
I don’t really have a typical day, but while I’ve been in this seat I’ve drafted application forms for consumer credit licences, helped clients prepare for Office of Fair Trading visits and amended debt collection letters. I’m often required to answer ad hoc consumer credit-related queries that clients may have, for example, relating to the validity of claims.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
It’s challenging. Although the law remains basically the same, there are many intricacies and every client’s needs are different, so I’m constantly required to dissect problems and develop new, innovative solutions.

What are the worst aspects of your job?
Due to the unpredictable nature of the work, it can be difficult to make plans in advance.

What’s the biggest misconception of the legal profession?
That you need lots of legal work experience to get a training contract. Firms are made up of people from many different backgrounds. Legal experience is important, but a variety of work experience in many different fields will help you to become a more appealing candidate.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Law firms receive thousands of applications every year from candidates who possess similar skills and academic abilities, so learning how to market yourself will help you stand out. Marketing is a process of promoting, selling and distributing a product or service. In this case the ‘product’ you’re trying to sell is you. An easy way to begin is to make a list of all your skills and accomplishments and think about what makes you unique and how you can add value to the firm you’re applying to.

What are the biggest pitfalls students should try to avoid when pursuing a legal career?
When applying for training contracts students often think the best way to get a vacation scheme or training contract is to fill in as many forms as possible. The more applications you send, the less time you can spend on each one. Think quality, not quantity.

What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
Filling in application forms ‘correctly’ and getting interviews.

How is law in practice different from studying law?
Studying law is very theoretical, whereas in practice it is a lot more practical. Being a solicitor is not just about black letter law – you need to understand your client’s objectives and the markets in which they operate. Clients demand a quality service that will deliver robust and viable business solutions. Increasingly this means firms must provide a range of services and solutions beyond those that are ‘merely legal’.

What are the common attributes of successful candidates?
A variety of work experience; ambitious; commercially aware; strong communication skills; good attention to detail.