Name: James Goose
Firm: Walker Morris
Position: Trainee solicitor
Degree: Law LLB
University: University of Manchester
Hobbies: Rugby, politics, music and travelling.
Current department: Intellectual Property
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 7/2
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
From a fairly young age I had decided that I wanted to study law at university. Many of my academic strengths and interests seemed to fit naturally with those required for a study of the law; namely, analysis, logic and writing.
Having thoroughly enjoyed my degree, the decision then came as to whether to practice as a barrister or solicitor. While the advocacy involved in a career at the Bar was appealing, the collaborative nature of working in a commercial law firm better suited my working style. Growing up I played a variety of team sports and I generally find myself most inspired when working alongside others to achieve a shared goal. This, along with the commercial focus of the work, was the most important factor in my decision to ultimately train as a solicitor.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
Due to the sheer number of applicants for training contracts each year, the biggest challenge that I faced was in differentiating myself from others on paper. The fact is that most applicants have strong academic grades and will be attending or will have attended good universities.
The trick, therefore, is to differentiate yourself by developing a unique extra-curricular record. Taking part in an unusual activity or having a job that is out-of-the-ordinary shows initiative and will make you stand out from the crowd. It also works as a good talking point during interviews. When I was younger I worked in a chorizo factory, a plant nursery and a nursing home; not many applicants will have done the same!
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
During one interview I was asked how I would convey the concept of a bicycle to an Amazonian tribe. Had someone walked in 10 seconds after the question was asked they would have witnessed a rather stern looking game of charades.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
The intellectual property department at Walker Morris handles a mix of contentious and non-contentious work for a broad range of regional, national and international clients. As a trainee, on any one day I might be writing a cease and desist letter to be sent to a company importing designer shoes that infringe a client’s design rights, and shortly afterwards be drafting an image rights agreement to be used by a Premier League football club. This variety, along with the fact that intellectual property law itself is a very fast paced and changeable area, ensures that each day in the department remains both unpredictable and engaging.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
For me the most enjoyable aspect of the job is the ‘problem solving’ character of the work. Generally a client will come to you with a problem and it is your job to provide a suitable solution. I find achieving this solution and doing so to the satisfaction of the client very rewarding. Aside from this, having the opportunity to work with senior individuals in successful businesses is very interesting and, from a trainee perspective at least, provides fantastic commercial experience.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
I didn’t anticipate the extent to which, as a solicitor, you are seen as a commercial advisor as well as a legal advisor. I quickly learnt that the provision of general commercial advice is fundamental to a solicitor’s role. Whether you are advising on a multinational distributorship arrangement or a local construction project, a central feature of your advice should be how to best proceed, commercially, based upon the legal position. Ultimately your advice to a client might be legally correct but if it is not commercially viable then it will not be well received. Commercial awareness is therefore key!
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
An email from an associate in another department about this year’s firm-wide fantasy football competition. I am on the firm’s charity fundraising committee and in advance of the new Premier League season I decided to set up a fantasy football league to raise money for the firm’s chosen charity. Despite some initial (misplaced) optimism, I have had a fairly poor start. It might be time to drop John O’Shea…
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
The Atlas Pub, the firm’s default bar of choice, on a Friday evening.
Describe your training partner in three words.
Attentive, professional, approachable.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
- I was in the final 10 for the role of Cedric Diggory in ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’.
- I can perform a stunning rendition of Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’ on the clarinet.
- I used to play table tennis for Yorkshire.
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Aside from developing a unique extra-curricular record, it is very important to properly research each firm that you apply for. Not only will this allow you to produce a more bespoke application, it will also enable you to determine whether a particular firm is a good personality fit. Each firm is different and as it is no secret that a career in law requires you to ‘put in the hours’, you need to be happy in your surroundings.