We quiz Dentons’ graduate recruitment partner Sarah Dyke
Department: Banking and Finance, specialising in Asset Finance
University: Exeter University
Degree subject: Law
Hobbies: I absolutely love scuba diving but when I can’t do that I really enjoy baking, Pilates, swimming, reading, spending time with my family and friends and I have a very unhealthy addiction to shoes and handbags
How long have you been a partner? Since 2009 but I joined the firm as a trainee in 1999.
Who/what inspired you to be a lawyer? When I was younger I loved LA Law and I thought that a career in law would involve prancing around the office in power suits and high heels and eating doughnuts at the weekly group meetings. The reality is slightly different. As a secondary reason I wanted to do something that challenged me.
What things did you wish you knew before embarking on a legal career?I wish I had known how varied the work in international law firms is and this is even truer today than it was when I was a student. There are so many options for trainees today and a lot of consideration needs to be given to seat choices. One of the great things about working in an international firm is that there are as many types of law as personalities so it is a rare person who on qualification can’t find an area that they are interested in.
What does your typical day involve? No two days are the same and your day never really pans out how you think it will which definitely keeps things from getting boring. But whatever is going on, I usually spend a lot of the day talking to clients, colleagues, other lawyers and other parties involved in transactions as it really is a people business.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job? Trying to juggle the competing demands of my job and my life and also making sure I leave the me that is a lawyer at the office when I go home.
What has been the highlight of your career so far? There have been many highlights: working in Tokyo, attending the Casino Royale worldwide premier and walking down the red carpet behind Eva Green, being made a partner and meeting some of my closest friends.
What are the best aspects of your job? The variety, challenge, international nature of the work and most importantly the people.
What are the worst aspects of your job? Never really switching off.
What tips would you give to students who want to break into the legal profession?Be focused on the types of firms that you apply to and do your due diligence on a firm because it is important that you find a firm that is right for you and your interests and make the application applicable to the firm you are applying to. It is very easy to spot the generic answers that are used and because there is so much competition you need to convince the firm that you want to work there.
What are the most common mistakes you’ve seen candidates making?Not answering the question that they are asked and making silly spelling mistakes or having inconsistencies in their form.
How has the legal market changed since the days you were a trainee?The legal market and the role of a lawyer has changed considerably since I was a trainee. I qualified in a buoyant market when life wasn’t quite so serious as it is now and there was a lot of work around. There is so much competition now and a greater emphasis on being able to market effectively and win work. Not only do you have to be a good technical lawyer, you have to be able to go out into the market and convince clients that you are the best person to advise them.
What impact has the recession had on your firm? The recession has made people take stock which is rarely done in the good times. It has certainly made us look at other opportunities and also expand the areas in which we work. It has also enabled us to look at new and innovative ways of delivering legal services to meet the difficulties our clients are facing and to win new clients.
What three words best describe your firm? One step ahead.
Where did you go for your last holiday? Singapore and Borneo – I love anything that involves a beach, sun and the sea.
What gadget/gizmo would you be lost without? I am a complete technophobe so I am relatively gadget/gizmo free. But I really do love my Kindle. I was originally very much against them (there is something very comforting about a proper book) but as soon as I used one I was completely hooked. I no longer get back ache from carrying books in my handbag and my luggage on holiday is considerably lighter.