Clare Swinnerton, Gateley

Name: Clare Swinnerton

Firm: Gateley

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Law LLB

University: University of Warwick

Hobbies: Travel, reading and playing netball

Current department: Corporate Recovery

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 10/4

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

While studying for my law degree, I carried out legal work experience and was involved in legal pro bono projects. I enjoyed engaging and building relationships with clients. I found advising clients and providing solutions in a commercial context particularly interesting.

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

Trying to balance studying at university and work commitments with finding the time to complete application forms and making my application stand out from other candidates.

Clare Swinnerton
Clare Swinnerton, Gateley

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

I was given a scenario and asked how I would legally advise the client on the situation. It was a difficult interview question as it was very unexpected and not something that I could have prepared for! I talked about basic principles of contract and tort law and explained how they were relevant to the situation. I discussed the client’s concerns and suggested options of how the client could proceed.

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

The corporate recovery team deals with a mix of both contentious and non-contentious insolvency matters for banks, finance companies and insolvency practitioners. As a trainee, I have gained experience in a wide variety of matters ranging from bringing breach of duty claims against directors of insolvent companies, to assisting with the sale of the business and assets of a company in administration. Insolvency law is very technical and so I also frequently carry out research into complex case law.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

Working within a friendly, supportive team and learning something new every day.

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

I didn’t expect that, as a trainee, I would have such a high level of client contact. Trainees are given a large amount of responsibility and I am encouraged to liaise directly with clients where appropriate. This means that clients will often contact me to discuss the progress of their matter, which is a good opportunity to gain further experience advising and building a rapport with clients.

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

It is from the fundraising manager at Macmillan Cancer Support (one of the charities supported by Gateley this year), discussing our meeting last week. As the trainee charity representative, I am responsible for liaising directly with Macmillan and organising the fundraising events for the office.

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

The trainees!

Describe your training partner in three words.

Committed, supportive and organised.

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

  • I won a pie eating competition
  • I bumped into Prince Charles while out shopping
  • I performed in a West End theatre show.

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

A cake and dessert developer for one of the major retailers so that I could travel the world, researching and sampling new products!

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

Try to get as much work experience as possible, whether legal or otherwise. Non-legal work experience is important for developing key skills needed for being a trainee and making your application stand out. Legal work experience provides an insight into working in a law firm and will help you to make an informed decision as to whether a career in law is really for you.