Name: Gareth Malna
Firm: Burges Salmon
Position: Trainee solicitor
Degree: BA (Hons) English Literature
University: Cardiff University and University of California, Irvine
Hobbies: Cooking, crossfit, reading
Current department: Corporate tax
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 5/2
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
I used to be a legal textbook publisher and felt uncomfortable telling authors what to include in their books when I wasn’t even trained in the subject. I enrolled in the GDL and enjoyed the practical side of the law so much that I decided to change careers.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
The most difficult aspect of the recruitment process was the application forms. I found it difficult to distinguish myself from the other candidates on paper; especially within the confines of the topics covered by the questions. Once I got past that stage I found things much easier.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
Q: What would you say or do if you were asked to represent a company that you had ethical objections to?
I definitely bumbled my way through this one…
A: I would put my opinions to the back of my mind and take each matter at face value. For every story there is another side and sometimes you have to admit that your prejudices are wrong.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
The corporate tax department is a good split between advisory and contentious work. We ensure that deals being transacted by our corporate and real estate teams are structured to be as tax advantageous as possible whilst also advising and representing clients who believe that HMRC assessments on their tax returns are incorrect.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
This is a notoriously technical area to work in and I really enjoy applying the increasingly complicated tax legislation to the scenarios faced by our clients.
I also enjoy the variety of work. One day can be spent dealing purely with numbers and calculations, the next can be spent analysing the meaning of HMRC guidance notes and the definition of legislative provisions.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
I was surprised by how much research is done across the firm. Before I started I assumed that the senior members of the team knew how to do everything and simply filtered that down through the rest of the team, but things change all the time and I am constantly researching new points of law that nobody in the firm has come across before.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
I’m trying to arrange for some documents to be signed in front of a notary in France, but one party is in London and another in Hong Kong. My latest email is from the French notary providing me with instructions (in French) on the necessary procedure to validly sign the documents.
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
Glassworks – the firm’s restaurant and coffee shop.
Describe your training partner in three words.
Iron Maiden fan.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
- My surname is Hungarian for raspberry.
- I once lived with a Punk Rock band in Brooklyn.
- One holiday I cycled from Germany to Oxford.
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
I would probably have stayed in publishing.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Do it. A lot of people will try to put you off and tell you how difficult it is to get into, but if you want an intellectually challenging career where no two days are the same then there’s definitely no better option.