Elspeth Rose, Birketts

Name: Elspeth Rose

Firm: Birketts

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Law LLB

University: University of Leeds

Hobbies: I really love dancing, especially break-dancing, reggaeton, and street. I like going out with friends and going to the cinema. I am not great at it, but I also like sewing.

Current department: Commercial property. I also support the residential development and property litigation teams.

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: From what I can remember I think I submitted about eight applications and had one interview. I was invited to a few more but was travelling at the time. 

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

I enjoy how the law is relevant to every business and pervades all parts of society. I can learn about many different industries and gain insight into people’s lives through being a solicitor. It is really interesting and you can have a big impact. 

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

There are so many hurdles to overcome, but the biggest one I found was completing the training contract written applications. You over analyse every answer you give to the point that your responses to questions can become staged and artificial. I much prefer a face-to-face interview, although that also brings its own challenges.

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

A partner said to me something on the lines of, “Every candidate that applies has a first or 2:1, what makes you any different?” It sounds obnoxious now, but in truth I said that nothing makes me different if taken on face value, but I knew that I would perform better than other candidates and be better at my job than the others. Thankfully, it worked as I got the job.

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

Currently, I am a trainee in the commercial property department, but I also assist the residential development and property litigation teams.

In commercial property I have been involved in complex transactions of land made to / between property developers or land owners, so I get to see both sides of the coin. In residential development, we usually act for housing associations or the council. We may advise on breaches of tenancy agreements or manage wider issues such as the purchasing of large plots of land to build affordable housing.  

Finally, in property litigation, as the name suggests, I am involved in all aspects of litigation ranging from boundary disputes and the breaching of tenancy agreements, amongst other things. My working day at the moment can encompass completions, technical drafting, client meetings; attending court and site visits, so it is incredibly varied. 

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

The people I work with are some of the most intelligent, discerning and supportive people I have ever encountered. So one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is being able to learn from them, while still being encouraged to have my own style. In reality, there are not many law firms around where you are encouraged to speak and put forward your ideas in client meetings, and it is this inclusion that makes the jump from trainee to qualified solicitor less daunting. Also, the partners are so nice that I get phone calls from them checking how I am getting on in my new seat which is really lovely. Obviously, I enjoy the application of the law, but it is the people that really can make your life at work fun.  

Elspeth Rose, Birketts
Elspeth Rose, Birketts

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

Possibly naively, I did not expect that such a big part of your job as a solicitor is being able to sell your skills and services to attract more clients. In the current economic landscape, law firms are becoming more and more commercially minded. Being able to network, and being personable, has never been so important. 

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

One of the other trainees replying to my email about our trainee social. 

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

It is never a good idea to gossip IN the office.  That’s what bars after work are for!

Describe your training partner in three words.

Eccentric. Funny. Savvy. 

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

  • I love coconut.
  • I love Made in Chelsea.
  • I was a baby model. 

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

There are so many careers I daydream about if I have a difficult day, so here are a few: a vet, a child psychologist, a travel writer, Beyonce’s back-up dancer / best friend.

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

I would suggest doing lots of work experience in different-sized firms in a variety of areas so you get a sense of what type of law you like, be it; contentious, non-contentious, transactional, client focused etc. Secondly, despite what parents and university make you believe, there is no rush: take your time, and make the right decisions for you.