Ashurst trainee Joanna Sidhu advises those wanting a career in law to gain as much practical experience as possible.
Name: Joanna Sidhu
Position: Trainee Solicitor
Universities: University of Oxford
GDL or LPC: LPC at BPP
Hobbies:Travel, surfing and music
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor? I enjoy working with people and I knew the solitary nature of the bar wouldn’t suit my personality. I was also attracted to the variety of work.
Why did you commercial law?TI knew it would provide a high quality of work that is both challenging and interesting. I also enjoy problem-solving and knew that commercial law demands a certain level of creative logic.
What has been the highlight of your training contract so far?Accompanying an associate to the Middle East to assist in interviewing witnesses and drafting their statements, which ultimately served as the evidence for an arbitration hearing.
What does your typical day involve?It differs between transactional and contentious work. Broadly, I manage and draft documents, carry out research, attend meetings and make phone calls.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by your department?Advising on corporate transactions, private equity, equity capital markets, restructuring and insolvency.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?The people I work with, constantly learning, being challenged and given responsibility.
What are the worst aspects of your job?Unpredictable hours. It can be difficult to make social plans during the week.
What is the biggest misconception of the legal profession?That is’s a purely academic profession. Actually, much of the day’s spent dealing with people, whether clients opr members of your team, rather than poring over judgements and statute books.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?Keep an open mind. Try to get as much, and as broad a range of, practical commercial experience as possible.
What are the biggest pitfalls students should try to avoid when pursuing a legal career?Blanket applications. Spend time researching and choose a few firms you’re interested in. Tailor your applications to them.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?Deciding which firm was right for me. I knew the type of work at the major corporate firms would be similar. It was more difficult to find somewhere I could picture myself working at for years to come.
How is law in practice different from studying law?The focus is on finding solutions, whereas at university you’re taught to question the law and identify problems.
What are the common attributes of successful candidates?Friendly, enthusiastic, hard-working, commercially and technically excellent – people you’d be happy to work late with.
[Joanna Sidhu was interviewed in July 2011]