Lawyer 2B launches some quick-fire questions at Howard Kennedy trainee Natasza Slater.
Name: Natasza Slater
Firm: Howard Kennedy
Position: Trainee solicitor
Degree: Law LLB
University: Nottingham Trent University
Hobbies: Cycling, Pilates and reading.
Current department: Dispute Resolution
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 12/3
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
One of my most vivid memories as an 11-year-old is reading one of my father’s books, a novel called The Chamber by John Grisham. As a child I was a little bit like the character, Matilda, in Roald Dahl’s novel (but unfortunately without the arithmetical skills!) and devoured whatever books were in our home; but no novel has ever had such a profound effect on me as this one.
The protagonist, a young Chicago lawyer, represents his grandfather (an ex Ku Klux Klan member) who has been sentenced to death for a crime he was present at, but ultimately did not commit. The topic of the novel is extremely sensitive, painful and thought provoking. After finishing the novel I found myself contemplating the justice system; what is fair, what is legal, and what is right. I knew at that point that I wanted a career as a lawyer.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
The biggest challenge I faced was standing out from the thousands of candidates possessing excellent academics, relevant work experience and all desperately wanting to be awarded with a training contract.
I was fortunate enough to be involved in the graduate recruitment day at my firm and the quality of the candidates was astounding. It made me wonder exactly what I had done to stand out at the interview stage. I can only deduce that my genuine passion for law and thorough research into both the firm and the legal landscape made me stand out.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
‘Do you feel that you have over-prepared for this interview?’
I had a few seconds to hazard a guess as to whether this was a trick question (can you ever prepare too well for an interview?) or a hint that I was coming across as robotic rather than personable.
I went for the former and told the interviewer my mantra, ‘if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail’. Turns out it was the latter! Luckily, I was half-way through the assessment day and found the opportunity to demonstrate my personality when delivering a presentation to the partners.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
The work in this department is very varied. The team works across many practice areas, including commercial litigation, civil fraud, media regulation, IP, professional negligence, business crime and personal injury.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
The hands-on experience.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
I did not expect to be undertaking a secondment for my third seat at Sony Music Entertainment; I expected my four training contract seats to be spent in private practice. When the opportunity came along to spend six months with the global digital business team at Sony Music Entertainment, I could not resist going back in-house for a brief period.
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
One of our weekly trainee lunches; the trainees are the best source of gossip.
Describe your training partner in three words.
Precise, intelligent and approachable.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
- My favourite snack is hummus and carrots.
- I consume at least one pot of hummus a week.
- I have been warned by my doctor that I will soon turn into a chickpea.
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
A writer, preferably a successful one, living somewhere warm and close to a sandy beach.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Research! Training contract applications are time consuming and as such, it can be tempting to gather a set of information about yourself, skip the research, and churn out the same answers to each application in order to maximise the number of applications. This is unlikely to demonstrate to a graduate recruiter that you have really understood that particular law firm’s key clients, its competitors and its strategy.
When drafting a training contract application ask yourself this: could all or part of my application be supplied to a law firm similar to the one I am applying to? If the answer is yes – go back to your research and tailor your application more carefully.