Osborne Clarke trainee Tom Kelsey rang every firm in the Yellow Pages before someone took him on for unpaid work experience.
Name: Tom Kelsey
Firm: Osborne Clarke
Degree: Computer Science
Universities: University of Bristol, College of Law (Bristol)
GDL or LPC: Both
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?I chose a law module as part of the final year of my undergraduate degree and it all went from there.
Why did you choose your firm? I felt the firm was a good match during my vacation scheme. Everyone is friendly and relaxed and the work is of a high calibre and rewarding.
What has been the highlight of your training contract so far? The usual, seeing matters I’ve assisted with covered by the media and the satisfaction when an agreement reaches completion. But also the practice group away day – that was a lot of fun.
What does your typical day involve? If I’m working on a large matter I may know that I’m, for example, helping to draft a document for the next two days. More commonly, each day changes throughout as new work comes in and different matters take priority.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by your department? I’ve been involved in a range of work from large residential developments for clients such as Barratt to solar and wind farms developments for international investors.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job? The general responsibility I’ve been given despite being in my first seat. I’m perhaps slightly unusual in enjoying the challenge of managing multiple matters at once to meet, if not hopefully exceed, clients’ expectations.
What are the worst aspects of your job? The discrepancy in cookie quality between Bristol and London. I’m accustomed to freshly-baked, warm cookies in Bristol but left wanting when I visit the London office for training.
What is the biggest misconception of the legal profession? That Disney’s villains Scar and Jafar pale in comparison to the terror of a Partner in a law firm – every one I’ve met, so far at least, has been friendly and welcoming.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law? Pick up a hobby or join a club that’ll make you stand out on an application form. Once you’re through the door for an interview you’ll know if the firm is the right fit for you and if you’re the right fit for the firm.
What are the biggest pitfalls students should try to avoid when pursuing a legal career? Avoid a splatter gun approach to applications. If you do decide to apply to a whole range of firms, be sure to personalise every application.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract? Finding informal work experience outside of a vacation scheme. I rang every law firm in the Yellow Pages before I persuaded someone to take me on for unpaid experience. That’s not to say work experience is a pre-requisite to an OC vacation scheme – I just thought it wouldn’t hurt my chances.
How is law in practice different from studying law? The GDL and LPC at the College of Law had quite a practical slant but it is certainly a lot more engaging in practice when you’re advising on a matter with real-life consequences.
What are the common attributes of successful candidates?I’d struggle to pigeon-hole an OC trainee – we’re all rather unique (in a good way, I hope)