JJ Shaw, Baker & McKenzie

Name: JJ Shaw

Firm: Baker & McKenzie

Position: Trainee

Degree: Law LLB

University: King’s College London

Hobbies: Football; cooking; music, TV and film

Current department: IT / Coms

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 2 summer vac schemes with final stage training contract interviews.

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

I decided to train as a solicitor because I wanted to give myself the best possible start to my legal career. A training contract is incredibly challenging and intellectually stimulating, but also gives you a great support structure by putting you among other trainees who share your goals. It’s something you become very proud of, and whether you remain a lawyer for life or move on to pastures new at some point down the line, being a ‘qualified lawyer’ will put you in good stead for the future.

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

My biggest challenge was securing a place on the summer vacation scheme at Baker & McKenzie, where competition for places is perhaps even more fierce than for the training contract itself. Aside from this, every applicant is faced with the obvious challenge of finding a firm that’s right for you; which matches your personality, interests and ambitions. Luckily for me, Baker & McKenzie is a great fit.

JJ Shaw
JJ Shaw, Baker & McKenzie

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

The toughest interview question I faced was probably “Describe your perfect day”. It came from a vac scheme interview at a magic circle firm. It’s such an open question as there’s no real right or wrong answer. I think I panicked and answered with what was at best a mediocre day.

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

The IT / Coms department deals with a broad range of commercial work, with a particular focus on IT and telecoms. We specialise in areas like data protection and digital media, which means we work with a range of well-known internet and tech clients. The department also handles a large amount of commercial contracts, which makes for an excellent quality of training.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

I certainly get a kick out of advising some of the world’s most well known companies. There’s a genuinely friendly and cohesive atmosphere here at the firm, with some very nice vac scheme socials/lunches to enjoy if you can reply to the email in time to get a place!

I also captain the Baker & McKenzie men’s football team and we play once a week in the London Legal League. It’s a great way to get to know people at the firm and from other top City firms and I really enjoy the social side of it.

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

I didn’t expect to learn quite as fast as I have done. There’s only so much the LPC can prepare you for actually practising law within a firm, and at the beginning you do feel a little bit lost. But every mistake you make is a step towards getting better and better as a trainee. I can already say that I feel a world of difference having been here for just nine months because you pick up so much on the job.

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

The most recent email in my inbox is from a person at a City investment bank proposing a pre-season friendly match with Baker & McKenzie before the football season starts. The email before that is from a big media and information firm, sending over some important telecoms licences from Singapore.

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

It has to be the PAs surely. I’m also good friends with the front desk receptionist and he knows everything.

Describe your training partner in three words.

Funny. Loud. Impressive.

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

  • I missed an X Factor audition the year One Direction formed to watch Leeds United lose in the rain.
  • I’m 6 foot 5.
  • I’m a distant family relative of Beatrix Potter.

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

There was a time that I was seriously considering becoming a sports commentator, probably by going down the radio or journalism route.

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

Be selective about the firms you choose and try to get as much work experience as possible, which will help to build your CV for when you want to start applying. Other than that, I think it’s really important to just be confident, and show that you have a personality and a sense of humour.