Wragge & Co trainee Carly Davies warns students about spelling mistakes and the infamous Wragges’ Mars Bar cakes.
Firm: Wragge & Co LLP
Position: Trainee solicitor
Degree: Law with Spanish LLB
Universities: University of Sheffield
GDL or LPC: LPC – College of Law Birmingham
Hobbies: Reading, baking, walking, going on trips to the seaside
Department: Financial litigation
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor? My childhood was a bit turbulent and I spent quite a bit of time around my parents’ solicitors. At the time their job seemed really interesting and exciting. I’ve always been chatty so I would ask them lots of questions. My interest grew when I studied law at A level and at university.
Why did you choose your firm? I didn’t want to work in London as I didn’t want the daily commute or the expense. I went to the Sheffield law fair and met the people on the Wragge & Co stand. They were really easy to talk to and I could see myself working there. I went to the open day and again liked the friendly, approachable attitude of the firm. I liked that Wragge & Co isn’t just the regional outpost of a London firm. It gives you the opportunity to do London-quality work – without all the downsides of working in London.
What has been the highlight of your training contract so far? Obtaining summary judgment for a client in a hearing that I prepared for, attended, and did the advocacy for myself.
What does your typical day involve? I get in at around 8.30am because I like to be able to have a cup of tea and my breakfast, check my emails, and catch up with people before getting stuck into work. You never know exactly what you will be doing each day as you can get pulled on to a new case at any time.
I have several of my own files and I have to be on top of any upcoming deadlines, so I will check to see whether there is anything coming up in the next couple of days which I need to prepare for.
I might have to draft a witness statement, an application for an upcoming hearing, or prepare a trial bundle. It might be something simple like sending a quick chaser email to the client to get them to send something or respond to a query.
Once that is dealt with, the rest of my day will vary. I also help out on files run by associates and partners in the team. I might attend a mediation or a full-day client meeting in Birmingham, London, or somewhere chosen by the client.
Trainees are often invited to attend meetings as it is good experience to meet the client. You can learn a lot just from watching other more senior lawyers in action. Generally, it will be my job to take a detailed note of the meeting and produce an action list of follow-up tasks and deadlines coming out of the meeting.
Other days, I might be asked to do some research; for example to find case law to support the arguments we are going to make at an upcoming hearing. I might have to draft a settlement order or instruct counsel to attend a hearing on our behalf.
On days when I am at my desk I will meet up with other trainees for lunch, or will go out for lunch with other members of my team. I am usually on my way home by 6.30pm – either via the gym, the shops, or one of the many nearby bars to catch up with my fellow trainees!
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by your department? My team deals with finance disputes. We act for financial institutions to recover outstanding debts or negotiate a settlement. We also act for housing associations with regard to unruly tenants, squatters and possession claims. It is a very fast-paced area. If a tenant is causing trouble, the neighbours want something done about it as soon as possible.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job? Getting to know clients and being thanked when you have done a good job.
What are the worst aspects of your job? The abundance of Mars bar cakes.
What is the biggest misconception of the legal profession? That there is no time for any fun. The great thing about being a trainee is you can get involved with so many activities run by Wragge & Co, which don’t solely relate to your legal work; e.g. reading in schools, helping out in homeless shelters, organising the annual quiz. The firm lets you have time off to do this.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law? Do your research before you apply. Every firm is different and you need to make sure that you know the type of work a particular firm does and why you would be a good addition to its team. Attend law fairs and open days so you can chat informally to the people who already work there.
Also, try to get relevant experience wherever you can. This doesn’t have to be in the legal sector; any part-time work will help you develop useful skills. Whatever you do – keep trying. Everyone gets rejected at least once. It just makes it all the more rewarding when you do eventually get offered a training contract.
What are the biggest pitfalls students should try to avoid when pursuing a legal career? Making spelling mistakes in their application forms. Applying for firms without finding anything out about them first.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract? Training contract applications take a long time! It is difficult to complete them while studying or working. For this reason it is often better to do a few really good applications for firms that you have done lots of research on rather than going for the scatter gun approach.
How is law in practice different from studying law? Sometimes the decision you take isn’t governed by the legal position itself, but will depend on commercial factors and what the client wants. This means you could have two matters which are very similar disputes, but the approach you take for each might be completely different.
What are the common attributes of successful candidates? Good time management. Good at problem solving. Ability to keep calm under pressure. Good attention to detail.