Name: Elliott Brookes
Firm: B P Collins
Position: Trainee Solicitor
Degree: Law LLB
University: University of East Anglia
Hobbies: Cinema, football and food
Current department: Litigation and dispute resolution
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 20/4
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
I know that most people’s answer is always “the diversity of the job”, but it really is the truth. My desire to pursue a career in law only arose once I had undertaken legal work experience in sixth form. It confirmed that I wanted a career where I was going to be stimulated, challenged and I would work with likeminded, ambitious people. It has not disappointed so far.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
Trying to make my application stand out from all of the other candidates. As the majority of applications are made online it was very hard to distinguish my attributes in 250 words, especially when you know that everyone has excellent academics and has done more extracurricular activities than they can count. I thought that I had the potential to be an excellent lawyer but expressing that and making the partners and interviewers see it was always the challenge. I’d say that while it is important to highlight your attributes, make sure you practise your delivery; otherwise your answers could easily be misconstrued as being arrogant.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
I faced a challenging commercial awareness question in relation to the banking sector and bankers’ bonuses during one interview.
I cannot really remember my answer (it is a bit of a humiliating blur) but I do remember the interviewer looking at me and just saying “Okay, let’s move on”. The first interviews are always the toughest; don’t be put off if you initially get rejected. My advice would be to stay positive, prepare more thoroughly and try again. In addition, if you don’t readily know the answer, take a pause before you speak; a moment of silence is better than five minutes of waffle.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
I am currently in the litigation and dispute resolution department. The department is divided into resolving disputes for both corporate and private clients, and also has a specialist real estate litigation team. My time is split pretty equally between all three. The department deals with a wide variety of matters from professional negligence to judicial review and debt recovery, and the property department has just a diverse workload.
My time today has been property litigation focused, having finalised an application for security for costs and reviewed documents for a vesting order application where we have a missing landlord in enfranchisement proceedings.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
Work wise, my supervisors are very inclusive and always want to get you involved. They often allow you to attempt the first draft of something (for example I was asked to draft a section 42 notice – having no idea what one was before I started). The ethos is to go away and have a go. Even if you get completely the wrong answer they will sit down with you, go through the process and ensure that you learn. It is hands on training with plenty of exposure. I never just sit and watch; instead I am continually developing my skillset.
On a personal level, I also enjoy coming to work because of the people around me; they really make a difference. We have an open-plan office in litigation so it is always busy and is a great atmosphere to learn in. Everyone has been really welcoming and is always on hand to answer my questions.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
At B P Collins the work life balance is important; I was expecting to be working all hours and weekends when I was applying for certain firms. I do work better under pressure – which is probably why I really enjoy litigation – but it is nice to know that I will be able to finish at a reasonable hour, and that the firm appreciates that staff have a life outside of the office.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
We are trying to recover a debt for a client and have issued bankruptcy proceedings against the debtor. The process server tried to serve the petition for me over the weekend but has emailed today to say that he was unsuccessful as the debtor, despite being seen, decided to hide in his house and not answer the door (I keep picturing the scene from The Inbetweeners!).
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
At B P Collins, the trainees open the post every morning so it’s always the ideal place to discuss what has been going on in the other departments.
Describe your training partner in three words.
Honest; supportive; knowledgeable.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
- I once lived under my friend’s stairs for a few months when I was in between accommodation.
- I have watched the entire Sopranos series five times.
- I own 22 pairs of shoes (probably an unhealthy amount for a guy).
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
A police officer or a commercial pilot.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Experience, experience, experience! Gain as much work experience as you can, especially with a specific firm if you really want to work for them.
Approach the work experience placement as a week-long interview, always offer to help and thoroughly check your work.
Don’t pretend to be something that you are not, be natural and aim to build up a rapport with the team. If you can get your foot in the door and make your name memorable it will help you stand out from all of the other applicants.