Name: Alexandra Wilson-Jones
Firm: Blaser Mills
Position: Trainee solicitor
Degree: Law LLB
University: Swansea University
Hobbies: Running, Athletics
Current department: Commercial
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 10/5
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
When I first embarked on my law degree, I did not know whether I wanted to be a solicitor. It was more because I knew that the skills I would gain would be transferable to a multitude of careers. It was only in my third year and after undertaking some work placements that I realised I wanted to become a solicitor; the work became much more stimulating and enjoyable.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
The ratio of applicants to trainee jobs was frightening and the competition for training contract places was extremely high. I found it particularly difficult to secure face-to-face interviews, as even before any interview stage, there were usually other hurdles to cross first, including assessment days and psychometric testing. Once I managed to get in front of the potential employer, I found I was able to fully get over my personality and fit for the firm.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
My firm, Blaser Mills asked me a great question: “Imagine you are writing a book about your own life. You have to name the book after a song title. What title would you choose and why?”
My answer was “Welcome to Wherever You Are” by Bon Jovi, because, I explained, we are all on our own journey, and no matter how far along or whereabouts we are on that journey, we are each in charge of our own, so grab it with both hands. It sounds cheesy, but it must have worked!
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
I am currently in the commercial department. I am working for a number of the lawyers, including partners, dealing with a broad mix of employment law, commercial contracts, corporate M&A work and commercial litigation matters. Even though I have only just started my seat, I have already been involved in advising clients on termination of their employment, dealing with matters at Companies House, and drafting complex commercial terms and conditions.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
By far the most enjoyable aspect is getting results for the clients and feeling a sense of satisfaction and achievement when matters are resolved. I enjoy being challenged and as a trainee you are constantly learning and developing from day to day. The firm I work for is great. They really invest resources in their trainees and they make sure that you get a balanced learning experience. The social events are good too!
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
My firm places a lot of importance on having a good work-life balance. As a law student, I was expecting to have to be working all hours from the get-go of my training contract. Of course, I don’t mind working late to meet deadlines when the need arises, but my firm’s culture is such that they appreciate that its lawyers have families and social lives outside of the workplace.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
From my firm’s marketing manager, badgering me about fundraising for Leonard Cheshire, a disabilities charity for whom the firm (including me) is running the Virgin London Marathon 2015 for. As trainees, we are actively encouraged to take part in events like this, as well as networking events, which helps us to hone our client facing skills.
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
As cliché as it sounds, the water cooler!
Describe your training partner in three words.
Pragmatic, committed and patient.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
- I bumped into Bradley Cooper at the gym
- A scene from Love Actually was filmed at my secondary school
- I know what it is Meatloaf won’t do for love
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
I never had a backup plan: once I had decided to become a lawyer, I only had one focus!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Firstly, obtain as much experience (voluntary or paid) as you can.
Secondly, law firms will look at your grades from each year (and each module) at university so make sure you work hard from day one.
Thirdly, don’t make generalised training contract applications, always look for a firm that you specifically want to work for, and make those reasons clear on your application. Passion and integrity will shine through from an applicant that is truly inspired by the firm they are applying to far more so than an applicant that hasn’t given any thought to what type of firm they want to work for or why.
Finally, don’t give up!