Zeynab Rajput, Burges Salmon

Name: Zeynab Rajput

Firm: Burges Salmon

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Law

University: City University

Hobbies: Netball, kickboxing, travelling, almost any sport/games activity I can get involved in and buying an obscene amount of shoes

Current department: Corporate

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 20/5

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

I enjoyed studying law at university, but more than that I feel that law in practice is very suited to my personality. I really enjoy working with people, being intellectually challenged and having a variety of things to do every day. Law is constantly evolving and the work we often get to do is very current. I like that law in general, and training as a solicitor, is very structured.

What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?

The volume and level of competition is very high. Standing out from the crowd is challenging when almost every applicant has an excellent academic record and is involved in plenty of extra-curricular activities. Juggling studying with various application forms and extra-curricular activities can be very challenging.

What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?

Zeynab Rajput, Burges Salmon
Zeynab Rajput, Burges Salmon

I was asked about an acquisition that was in the news at the time. I didn’t know the story in much depth but I managed to outline what had been going on. I was then asked to choose which company I would rather negotiate terms for and why. I did this using all my legal and commercial knowledge, only to be told I was wrong and should now explain why I would negotiate from the other side. This definitely took me by surprise – it was my first ever interview and I didn’t know what to expect. In hindsight, it was a great learning experience.

Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…

The corporate department works on a broad range of transactions. Most of the work that I have been involved in revolves around mergers and acquisitions, but we also advise clients on private equity, equity capital markets, corporate reorganisations, joint ventures and the formation of investment funds. I have mostly been involved in work in the energy sector which is very current and interesting.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

Being able to get involved in a transaction from start to finish is very rewarding. You really get to feel part of the team; you get regular contact with the client and build relationships with everyone that you’re working with. Producing documents that are used in the transaction gives you a great sense of achievement.

I also really enjoy the nerdy intricacies of drafting documents. (I might need to get out more).

What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?

I didn’t expect to enjoy the office atmosphere so much. With a great trainee intake and very welcoming departments throughout the firm it doesn’t feel like much of a shock moving from being a student to working full time.

I also didn’t expect to want to be really busy all the time. Feeling involved in transactions is really motivating. I really want to get the most that I can from each department that I’m in and learn the most that I can from the people that I work with.

Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?

The most recent email in my inbox is from a senior associate in the department. He asked me if I have two hours over lunch to go and play boules with some of the corporate department and clients that we work with at Lloyds, EY and Santander – which of course I immediately replied to saying yes!

Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?

Most definitely the trainees.

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).

  • I performed in a dance show in Dominican Republic
  • I am a black belt in Tae Kwon Do
  • I recently allocated my entire trainee intake into Harry Potter houses

If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?

I did consider journalism at one point, which is in line with the drafting point above.

If it could be anything, I would go for something activity based, like a SCUBA diving instructor in the Maldives.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?

Get as much experience as possible.  As I said above, my first ever training contract interview, although it wasn’t great, was a useful learning experience. You learn so much from every vacation scheme or work placement that you do, whether it is in the legal field or not.  It’s also good to get an idea of what type of firm you’re most suited to.