Name: Annika Bell
Position: Trainee solicitor
Degree: Law LLB
University: University of East Anglia
Hobbies: Hockey and travel
Current department: Corporate commercial
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: Approx. 50/10
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
Ever since I completed work experience in year 10 at a local court I have wanted to work in the legal profession. I was fascinated by how we are all (individuals and businesses) governed by rules, whether written or created by precedent. After completing a number of work experience placements at court and in law firms, I decided that I wanted to be a solicitor.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
Trying to stand out. There is a lot of competition in the market and during the recession there were fewer training contract places available. It is important to have something on your application to catch the recruiter’s eye and invite you to that first interview. I saw a big increase in paralegal and training contract interviews once I had at least a year’s work experience to demonstrate my skills.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
“Why have you not got a training contract?” Sometimes interviewers ask a negative question to see how you react and whether you respond positively. I explained how my focus had changed as to the type of firms I was applying to and it was probably apparent to the recruiters reading my application that I was not the right candidate for them. After completing the LPC and gaining further work experience, I knew what I was looking for in my career and as a result of stronger, more targeted applications, I saw an increase in interviews.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
I have been involved in mergers and acquisitions; buying and selling businesses through share or asset purchases. This involves due diligence, disclosure, drafting the sale and purchase agreement and ancillary documents and liaising with colleagues in the property and employment teams. The department also advises on other corporate documentation (such as shareholder agreements), commercial contracts (such as terms and conditions) and banking and finance arrangements. Our sectors include healthcare, leisure and logistics.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
Colleagues and clients. I work with very knowledgeable and humorous people who teach me a great deal as I embark on my career and I enjoy working with them each day. In addition, as with all areas of law, it is the clients that provide you with the variety of work that is interesting and sometimes quite challenging!
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
I did not know that we had to complete the Professional Skills Course during our training contract and, depending on the area of law, undertake further courses and exams post qualification. I am qualifying into private wealth and during the course of my career I will undertake The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners qualifications.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
As I will be qualifying in September, I have received an email from the marketing team with my website picture and online profile to draft. However, the most recent deal email I received was from the buyer’s solicitor regarding an update to the schedule of intellectual property rights in the share purchase agreement immediately prior to completion of the £6m share deal. While my colleagues were en route to the completion meeting, I was in contact with the other solicitors to finalise the documents.
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
Usually the other trainees!
Describe your training partner in three words.
Supportive, interesting and meticulous.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
- I was a film extra in the third Harry Potter film.
- I have a slight obsession with the number 4.
- I completed a three legged, egg and spoon race dressed as a pirate.
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
After completing my LPC, I was interested in employment law and worked as an HR Business Advisor before securing my training contract. If I had not become a lawyer, I probably would have retrained as an HR/employment law consultant. Although, my Nan always wanted me to become a nurse!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Think about your long-term career goals and what you need to do now to achieve them. Get a variety of work experience, not necessarily legal, commercial work experience is good too. It is also important to have a life outside of work and be involved in something you are passionate about, which illustrates your personality and also gives you something to talk about when networking or at interviews.