Mei Lian, Shearman & Sterling grad rec partner

Shearman & Sterling’s graduate recruitment partner Mei Lian confesses how Susan Dey of 80’s legal TV drama LA Law inspired her to break into the legal profession

Name: Mei Lian

Firm: Shearman & Sterling

Title: Graduate Recruitment Partner

Department: European Finance

University: Cambridge

Degree Subject: Law

Hobbies: Reading, travel and music

How long have you been a partner for? Two years

Who/what inspired you to be a lawyer? Susan Dey, in LA Law, a TV series from the 80s. Most people reading this won’t know what I’m talking about!

What things did you wish you knew before embarking on a legal career? It’s definitely not like LA Law, Ally McBeal, or Boston Legal, for that matter.

What does your typical day involve? Analysing issues on finance documents, and talking my clients through them.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job? Multi-tasking to ensure everything gets done – when things are busy, it gets pretty hectic, but if you’re organised and efficient about it, it always works out.

What has been the highlight of your legal career so far? My three year secondment as an associate to our Rome office. The work was challenging but very interesting, and there was the added bonus of the sheer pleasure of living in Rome.

What are the best aspects of your job? The unpredictability of it.

What are the worst aspects of your job? The unpredictability of it.

What top tips would you give to students who want to break into the legal profession? Try and gain some relevant experience. This should help you decide if it’s actually what you want to do. Take your time completing your applications – mass producing them over a couple of days is not a good idea, you’re bound to make mistakes. Competition is very high, so don’t be too disheartened if you get some rejections.

What are the most common mistakes you’ve seen candidates making? Spelling the firm’s name incorrectly, or sending an application to the wrong firm! Not knowing enough about the firm to articulate why they applied here.

How has the legal market changed since the days you were a trainee? Law firms are much more business-oriented these days.

What impact has the recession had on your firm? I think the fact that we have a flexible approach means we’ve been able to adapt quite quickly in response to changes in the market.

What three words best describe your firm? Entrepreneurial, informal, friendly

Where did you go for your last holiday? Laos

What gadget/gizmo would you be lost without?  My iPhone.