Helena Heaton, Reed Smith

Lawyer 2B quizzes Reed Smith trainee Helena Heaton

Name: Helena Heaton

Firm: Reed Smith

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Modern Languages BA (German)

University: Oxford

Hobbies: Running, women’s football

Current department: Energy and natural resources

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 5/2

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

I wanted a job which would offer me academic challenge but in a commercial context.

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

Distinguishing firms from their competitors and having to revise for finals at the same time.

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

Which is better – litigation or arbitration? I hadn’t studied any law at that point so I probably cobbled together a poor answer! 

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

Commodities and energy disputes, trade transactions and infrastructure projects – a broad range of work.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

1) Intellectual challenge/problem solving – getting to grips with complex issues and explaining them in a simple way.

2) Level of responsibility – feeling like an important part of the team even at junior level. 

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

The number of tasks you have to juggle at any one time.

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

A fellow trainee asking if I want to get a snack!

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

ThirtyOne, the staff restaurant. 

Describe your training partner in three words

Good humoured, relaxed, kind.

Helena Heaton
Helena Heaton, Reed Smith

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

  • I want to write a children’s book
  • My favourite pastime is cooking
  • When I was younger I used to practice writing with my toes.

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

Detective Inspector – inspired by Morse, Poirot, Barnaby and Jonathan Creek!

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

Know well the firms you are applying to and be able to distinguish them from their competitors. This is hard without a genuine insight into a firm – work experience or talking to someone “on the inside” is invaluable.