Taylor Wessing trainee Neeta Chityal advises those wanting a career in law to develop contacts early on.
Name: Neeta Chityal
Firm: Taylor Wessing
Position: Trainee Solicitor
Universities: University College London
GDL or LPC: GDL and LPC at BPP
Hobbies: Running, cooking and music
Department: Real Estate Disputes
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor? I decided to train as a solicitor after exploring other careers. I carried out work experience at various different companies and then decided upon training as a solicitor, as this career presents intellectual challenges whilst working in the world of business.
Why did you choose your firm? Taylor Wessing is a full service, international law firm, which means that the training it offers is interesting and varied. As the firm has a relatively small trainee intake for its size, it really allows for early responsibility and the opportunity to develop your career faster. Taylor Wessing has 22 offices across Europe, Middle East and Asia, which makes working here very exciting. After spending two weeks at the firm, I found the culture to be very open and friendly.
What has been the highlight of your training contract so far? In my previous seat in the corporate department, I was given responsibility for managing a cross firm due diligence process for an acquisition that we were working on. Not only did I carry out the corporate due diligence myself, I also coordinated the employment, real estate, environment and planning, construction, and tax reports. I was reporting back to the client on important matters that would affect the deal. It was brilliant to be given so much responsibility so early on in my training contract.
What does your typical day involve? In the real estate disputes team my working day can involve anything from drafting witness statements to reviewing leases. I spend time liaising with the court, but also with clients directly. This seat is a good way to experience both property law in practice and also litigation.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by your department? The real estate disputes team works on a wide range of issues. This could be serving notices to break or renew leases, but the team also works on cases relating to noise and vibration, rights of light, and the encroachment of Japanese Knotweed. The wider real estate group carries out cross border transactions, and encompasses many specialist areas such as environment and planning law.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job? I really enjoy client contact and being able to put faces to names that I deal with on a daily basis. I also enjoy being involved in the graduate recruitment process. I was recently a buddy to a number of vacation schemers this summer, which involved answering any questions that they had and ensuring they were involved in a variety of interesting tasks.
What are the worst aspects of your job? Trainees are often given work from a number of people in the department and pulled in many directions. This means that time management and being able to prioritise work become key skills to develop. However, it also means that trainees are exposed to a wide range of work and get to know a number of people across the department.
What is the biggest misconception of the legal profession? Life as a lawyer is often spent trying to avoid disputes and minimising risk, rather than spending time in dramatic court room battles.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law? Make sure that this is a career that you definitely want to pursue. It is a demanding job and it is important that you feel you are in the right place. Do research into other career options to ensure that you make an informed decision before applying to training contracts. Then choose the right firm for you through research and attending open days. Our firm runs a number of open days and details can be found on our website.
What are the biggest pitfalls students should try to avoid when pursuing a legal career? Students should not underestimate how important commercial considerations are in a legal career, and the need to develop contacts at an early stage.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract? Trying to narrow down the number of firms to apply to was particularly difficult, considering how many law firms there are available to choose from. Finding firms that I would want to build a long term career at was a key factor in my decision making process, which meant I spent a large amount of time researching the various firms. This is often difficult, as it can appear at first glance that many firms are similar.
How is law in practice different from studying law? Black letter law, reciting cases and legal research skills are of course still important in practice, but being able to apply legal, and often innovative, solutions to practical problems is key. A good lawyer needs to demonstrate commercial awareness and be able to tailor their advice to suit the client’s business needs.
What are the common attributes of successful candidates?Attention to detail, strong interpersonal skills and commercial awareness.