Zoe Walkinshaw, McDermott Will & Emery

Name: Zoe Walkinshaw

Firm: McDermott Will & Emery

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Social and Political Sciences

University: Cambridge

Hobbies: Travelling, health and fitness, food, socialising

Current department: Corporate

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: Several

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

I decided to train as a solicitor towards the end of my time at university because I thought that my strengths and skills would be very well matched to the profession.  My decision was then reinforced by interesting and wide-ranging work placements.

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

The biggest challenge for me was the competition around the years 2009 and 2010, when I had just finished my degree and wanted to progress my career quickly.   

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

My toughest question was to explain which character from a novel I most resembled. I remember saying Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice and hoping that my interviewer was not going to delve deeply into the complexities of Elizabeth’s character as it had been a while since I had read the text. My brief summary of Elizabeth’s qualities as I perceived them luckily sufficed.  

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

The corporate department advises on restructuring and private equity transactions, structured finance, capital markets and acquisitions. The team provide advice from a UK law perspective which complements the work of our other international offices on deals involving different jurisdictions. On a day to day basis, the work is very varied, involving tasks ranging from drafting deal documentation to negotiating key points with clients and other parties.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

I have had excellent work and involvement from the start of my training contract. For me the most enjoyable aspects of my corporate seat are getting to know the businesses in the early stages of a transaction, helping to produce documentation required to facilitate each stage, and the close teamwork that goes into bringing a transaction to completion. Legal research and writing articles are also highlights.

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

There have not been many unexpected aspects of my job due to the research that I had done into the firm and training contract, as well as the many opportunities that I had to speak to other members of the firm before I joined. However the breadth of work and responsibility that I have been given in my first seat has exceeded my expectations and provided me with an invaluable learning experience.

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

Zoe Walkinshaw
Zoe Walkinshaw, McDermott Will & Emery

An email from an associate in my team asking me to carry out some preliminary research into a Scottish company. I will collate my results and arrange a meeting with the associate to discuss them.

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

Probably at the Friday night drinks.

Describe your training partner in three words.

Energetic, motivated, supportive.

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

  • I once worked at a function that had a wedding cake with a value of over £4,000.
  • I slept outside for two weeks in rural Morocco and painted school classrooms during the day.
  • I would like to live on a barge at some point.

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

A career in hospitality.

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

Take the time to build your strengths, whether in the legal industry or elsewhere, and use the opportunity to convey them when attending interviews or assessment days. Seek out work experience to enable you to learn in different environments and find the areas of law that interest you the most.