Alexander Critchley, Macfarlanes

Name: Alexander Critchley

Firm: Macfarlanes

Position: Trainee solicitor, second seat

Degree: English

University: Durham

Hobbies: Cycling, Theatre, Film

Current department: Corporate

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 8/2

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

I decided to train as a solicitor because the prospect of using academic research in a commercial context appealed to me.

Furthermore, as a trainee solicitor, you have a unique opportunity to put yourself out there and take a chance while knowing that, as a relatively inexperienced member of a team, there is a support network and people to go to for advice who help shape the work you produce, until ultimately you know what chances you can and can’t take.

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

Trying to differentiate myself from others just as qualified as me.

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

Why read English at university when you could have read Law?” I essentially responded that any non-vocational degree could be questioned in the same way, and that in my opinion university was about studying something in depth that you had already developed a passion for.

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

My department primarily advises on mergers and acquisitions and private equity backed transactions. However, in the recent IPO ‘boom’ the department’s ECM practice has been extremely busy. My supervisor in particular focuses on public work and I have recently worked on the flotation of GAME Digital plc.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my current seat has been watching the progress of the transactions I have worked on in the media. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job in general is seeing work I have done go to a client (looking more like my initial draft than usual).

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

Working all night isn’t actually seen as a fundamental part of a trainee’s life, and it is very much appreciated when you have to do it.

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

A fellow trainee asking whether I fancied a coffee. I did.

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

The lifts.

Describe your training partner in three words.

Relaxed; sharp; tanned.

Alex Critchley
Alex Critchley, Macfarlanes

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

  • I have applied to Masterchef twice and got accepted the second time but had to pull out for my training contract interview.
  • I was once an ‘event’ at a fete in Cornwall when my mother offered a jar of sweets to the person who guessed the closest to the number of freckles on my 5-year-old face.
  • I once won an award for falling down a cliff on a skiing trip.

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

I would have liked to go into production at the BBC.

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

Try not to be put off by rejection from firms. It is very rare that the first application you make will lead to a training contract. Secondly, it is very important to work out exactly what sort of firm you want to end up working at. However, taking a more ‘scatter-gun’ approach, at least initially, can be useful: the more applications you churn out, the more focused they eventually become, and it is likely that this process will help you narrow down the right firm whilst also improving your own style. Ultimately, getting practice will only help.