Name: Ben Jefferies
Firm: Arnold & Porter (UK)
Position: Trainee solicitor
Degree: BSc Microbiology
University: University of Nottingham
Hobbies: Cycling, food, wine, walks in the country, travel
Current department: White collar crime
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 10/2
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
Working in the heavily regulated sector of pharmaceuticals, I enjoyed the challenges of interpreting legislation and manipulating language to arrive at a business focused solution. Working as a solicitor in private practice would allow me to do that on a daily basis across a wide variety of clients and business areas.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
One of the biggest, coming from a scientific background and having worked for several years, was explaining why I had changed career paths to the legal sector. However, although this was a challenge, it also proved to be an asset as it allowed me to demonstrate how much thought and effort I had put in to my decision. Another major challenge was the amount of time and effort required to produce a well formed and tailored application. With firms receiving thousands of applications, making sure yours stood out from the crowd was difficult.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
I honestly can’t remember, they were almost five years ago! One thing about becoming a solicitor is the length of time it takes!
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
My current seat is in white collar crime. This is a fascinating group that represents individuals and corporations in civil, criminal and internal investigations. The work ranges from defending clients in high profile criminal trials to advising on internal compliance programs and the UK Bribery Act.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
Working together with teams of incredibly intelligent lawyers to find that solution that no one else has thought of. Being challenged intellectually on a regular basis and the satisfaction you feel when you finally find that information you have been searching for for hours.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
The huge variety of clients that we represent here at A&P, from large corporations to one man bands. One moment you are advising one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world about implementing a global process and the next a young entrepreneur about buying a pub. The range will always keep you on your toes.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
The group partner about the preparation of a witness statement for an upcoming criminal trial.
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
The kitchen! Or the Thursday night drinks at the Garden Room.
Describe your training partner in three words.
Obsessed with jeans.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
I used to live in Australia
I have competed for England
I have always wanted to be a lawyer
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
I did choose one! I working in pharmaceuticals for several years. If not that, maybe a doctor: a lot of my friends are doctors.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Get as much work experience as possible and try and find out what it is actually like to be a solicitor on a day to day basis. This isn’t something you can read in a book. If you have had the experience it will stand you in good stead when they ask you why you want to be a solicitor. Also, try and get on as many vacation schemes as possible, these will give you great insight to what the firm is like and the type of work they undertake. They are also an excellent opportunity to showcase your abilities!