Name: Joe Bennett
Position: Trainee solicitor
Degree: Law (LLB)
University: Durham University
Hobbies: Playing music; going to gigs; watching football (Southampton FC); home brewing and self-sufficient and eco-friendly living.
Current department: ICE (Infrastructure, Construction and Energy)
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 12/4
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
I was always convinced as a child that my mother was wrong and I was right. So I wanted to train in a profession that would let me argue my case and win, without being sent to bed. Unfortunately, despite years of legal study, mum still always knows best.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
Differentiation. Every law firm today has a modern and impressive website. Many of the central London firms provide a full service and have the biggest clients. The problem with this is differentiating between the firms and finding one with an environment and atmosphere that suits your outlook and way of working. I found that the best way of overcoming this is to get in and amongst the firms and meet the people, and work out whether the firm is a place that suits you. After all, you will be spending a lot of time with those people and in that environment, so it’s important to pick a firm that suits you.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
Question: If you were a pencil stuck in a blender, how would you get out?
Answer: I would text all of my Crayola and Biro friends and ask them to hide in nooks and crannies around the house. When somebody needed a pen, they would search high and low, see me in a blender and fish me out.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
I work (mainly) on non-contentious construction matters in my department. This department is currently advising on anything form luxury fit outs in the west end to the £2bn regeneration of the Olympic Legacy site in Stratford. The clients include long-standing institutional landlords as well as foreign investors including Chinese state-owned developers. More broadly the ICE department has been involved in projects such as bringing Jordan its first wind farm and specialises in waste, waste management, PPP/PFI transactions, central London and regional developments and regeneration projects.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
Work wise, my supervisors allow me the freedom to take matters on and run with them. I am encouraged to give things a go, contact other parties and clients directly and progress matters. This gives me a sense of ownership over my matters, the confidence to deal with issues that arise and a sense of satisfaction when they complete.
On a personal level, the people at the firm really make a difference. I am surrounded by trainees with whom I attended law school and have gotten to know through our studies and work. We help each other out when the going gets tough and are all good friends. We have all been on holiday to visit our friend seconded to the Brussels office and there’s always a night out or event on the horizon.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
I didn’t realise the continued support that goes into developing trainees as lawyers and people. There are streams of lectures and seminars ranging from Oxbridge academics discussing recent trends in contract law, to advice on methods of dealing with stress. HR continues to check-in on our progress and wellbeing and our supervisors look out for our interests in our department (exposing you to quality work and shielding you a little when you seem overloaded). People are on your side and want you to succeed.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
We act for the Landlord of the property who has allowed a tenant to procure refurbishment works. Our client therefore requires collateral warranties for these works, and would like advice on the terms of these warranties. I have received a request from our client asking to discuss a contractor’s requirement for a net contribution clause. The clause has been inserted by a structural engineer into its deed of collateral warranty.
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
The Nabarro trainee Whatsapp group.
Describe your training partner in three words.
Chatty, approachable, caring.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
I only speak in limericks. I am a leapyear baby. I have starred in a Bollywood movie.
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
I would have been something between a mechanic and an inventor. I like to tinker with things and see how they work.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Be open-minded to the areas of law in which you would like to practice and be aware that you will always be learning new things. Be confident of what you know, but don’t be afraid to ask questions of others. Experience as many aspects of the profession as you can. It won’t be like the legal dramas on television, but it can be extremely rewarding and will definitely challenge you on a daily basis.