Name: Ellie Boyd
Firm: Veale Wasbrough Vizards
Position: Trainee solicitor
Degree: Law LLB
University: University of Birmingham
Hobbies: Netball/gym, music, theatre and travel
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: Around 25/2 vac schemes/3 TC interviews
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
I wanted a career that would challenge me on a daily basis, but within a supportive, team-based environment. I knew I would enjoy a job that involved working face to face with people, with scope to build lasting relationships with clients.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
I would say my main challenge was the sheer volume of other strong applicants. I was applying in the wake of the financial recession, when many firms had reduced their trainee intakes and/or deferred trainee places, intensifying the competition for each training contract. It can be difficult to set yourself apart from others on paper with limited opportunity to get your personality across.
In addition to this, the application forms themselves were often time consuming and it was a discipline to set aside the necessary time to put together a focused application after a day’s work.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
At my first ever assessment centre we were each given quite a complicated business case study to discuss with the interview panel. This was a particularly daunting task for a second year law student with relatively little business experience. Fortunately, in preparing for the interview I had read an online article about the issues which most commonly arise during a merger of two businesses so I was able to give some vaguely sensible answers. With the benefit of having completed the LPC, this would have been a far less intimidating task!
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
I’m currently in our employment/litigation department.
Our employment team deals with a range of both contentious and non-contentious work including tribunal claims, workplace disputes, business transfers/reorganisations and contracts. The work is really interesting as it centres around people and is very relatable. The team acts for a range of clients including schools and HE institutions, private companies and individuals.
The work handled by our litigation team ranges from general commercial disputes to more specialist insolvency and restructuring work. As well as assisting with larger matters, trainees are given the opportunity to run their own smaller files under supervision and to attend Court hearings with counsel.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
The role of a trainee is challenging and requires you to be a fast learner, but it is also incredibly engaging. I really enjoy meeting clients and being able to assist with their various legal problems. It is particularly rewarding when a client drops you a line to thank you for your hard work.
Aside from this, I would also say the people I work with. VWV has an incredibly friendly and supportive atmosphere which is quite unique for a firm of its size. The open plan offices engender a sociable environment and there is a real absence of hierarchy within the firm. Whilst there will inevitably be busy periods, work/life balance is genuinely encouraged.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
Trainees are actively encouraged to get involved in business development and attend networking events from the get-go. As a trainee, it is easy to underestimate the role you can play in winning work, even at such a comparatively early stage. Trainees are also often asked to assist with preparing legal updates and client seminars which can be a nice alternative to matter-related work.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
It’s an email chain between our CSR committee and Social committee discussing plans for a charity event we have coming up next month. Staff across our offices will be cycling the distance from Bristol to London using stationery bikes set up in our Bristol and London offices to raise money for our nominated charities.
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
The Kitchen at lunchtimes/pay day drinks!
Describe your training partner in three words.
Approachable, supportive, busy
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order)
- I play the piano and the flute.
- I once met Baywatch star David Hasselhoff backstage at a panto.
- I have been a ball girl at Wimbledon.
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
Had I not gone down the law route, I would have loved to be a journalist/producer for the BBC, or alternatively a teacher.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Try to get as much legal work experience as possible to be sure a career in law is what you really want. The path to becoming a qualified solicitor can be demanding and requires a good deal of commitment.
Keep abreast of trends in the legal world – the profession is undergoing a great deal of change and firms are looking for candidates with an awareness of the market in which the firm operates.
For those hunting for training contracts I would really recommend obtaining a paralegal role. Paralegal work is at times incredibly similar to that of a trainee, and will set you in excellent stead for the various situational/competency-based questions that invariably crop up at interview.