Name: Nathalie West
Firm: Weil, Gotshal & Manges
Position: Trainee solicitor (4th Seat)
Degree: Law (LLB Senior Status), Psychology (BA)
Universities: Queen Mary, University of London, Villanova University (PA, USA)
Hobbies: Playing golf with family and friends, traveling, budding foodie
Current department: Banking Finance, New York office
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 10/4
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
During my first degree, I spent three summers interning at a small law firm where I gained experience in both contentious and non-contentious legal work. By the time I started my LLB, I knew that corporate, commercial work best-suited my personality and academic interests.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
I knew that I wanted to train with a firm focused on corporate work, but with so many excellent firms to choose from in London, it was difficult to narrow down my list of firms. I wanted to submit a small number of applications to similar firms and tailor each application as much as possible.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
At one firm I was asked, “What is your worst quality?”. This was tough because of course we are naturally inclined to not talk negatively about ourselves in interviews. I first answered that I wish I had taken an economics class or something similar to ‘beef-up’ my business knowledge. I was asked to re-answer the question with a negative personality trait – something I really didn’t like about myself. I took some time to think about the question again, and answered honestly by saying that I am a bit of a pushover, and often struggle to stand up for myself. Looking back, I think the interviewer wanted to get a sense of who I was, for the good and the bad. Interviewers really want to get to know who you are, and not just hear you reiterate what is on your application form.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
The banking finance team in New York works a lot with London’s banking team. The teams represent both private equity sponsors and banks on the financing of leveraged buyouts as well as the on-going re-financings of these leveraged loans.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
I enjoy the fast-paced nature of corporate work. Deals often come in with two to three weeks to close, and while the hours can be tough, I enjoy the ‘all hands on deck’ mentality necessary for a successful, time-efficient closing. Transactional work is a team sport, and one of the best parts about my job is working with talented lawyers who are personable and fun to work with.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
I did not expect that I would learn as much as I have in such a short time-frame. The hours can be tough, but I have ended each seat feeling very thankful to have had the opportunity to work on numerous, big-ticket deals and be allowed associate-level responsibility on many of these deals.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
An email from my supervisor from my last seat (Banking Finance in the London office) checking-in on me and asking how my secondment in NY is going. Not only are supervisors there to keep tabs on trainees and answer questions, but they can also become career-long mentors and close friends.
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
My office. My office-mate is the first to know everything.
Describe your training partner in three words.
Clever, down-to-earth, considerate.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
I was born and raised in Bermuda; my great-great-grandfather was a pirate; I am allergic to cheese.
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
Travel writer or detective.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Make sure you get work experience working in as many law-related summer jobs or internships as you can. Not only will this strengthen your resume, but you will be able to see early on if being a lawyer is something you really want to do and will help you decide what type of law interests you.