Name: Kate Jones
Firm: Clyde & Co
Position: Trainee solicitor
Degree: Modern History and Politics
University: The University of Liverpool
Hobbies: Piano, badminton, reading on the beach
Current department: International Secondment to Dubai – Contentious Construction (Arbitration)
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: Too many!
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
I had been mulling the idea of becoming a solicitor over since school, but it wasn’t until the final year of my degree that I decided to commit to pursuing a career in law after gaining bit of work experience with a local high street firm.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
I found it hard to strike a balance between being prepared while sounding natural. One piece of feedback that I received from an interview was that I was over-prepared, which made me sound rehearsed rather than highlighting my own personality.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
“What would your autobiography be called and why?”
I was completely flummoxed by this before I managed to answer, “There and Back Again.” I may have slightly plagiarised my answer from The Lord of The Rings (big fan!) but it was the only thing that came to mind at the time whilst the interviewer was watching me crumble.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
I am currently in the Construction team in Dubai. My seat is predominantly litigation / arbitration focused. In the market in Dubai and the Middle East generally, there are a lot of disputes going on between Developers and Contractors. We work mainly for international Contractors operating in the region.
The UAE is a really interesting jurisdiction to work in as it is influenced by both common law and civil law and has a Civil Code. There are also laws varying between the different emirates. In Dubai, there are freezones with different rules again as well as different court systems e.g. local Dubai Courts, DIFC courts and then different arbitration centres.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
The most enjoyable aspect of my job is meeting new people and building relationships with them. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of face-to face contact with clients and counsel. This helps build up a good rapport and makes it a lot easier when you are locked in a room with them all day drafting witness statements (and it also helps get you an invite to lunch in the restaurant on the 122 floor of the Burj Khalifa!)
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
One thing that has always struck me about law firms in general is how normal lawyers are! Before I started working in a law firm I had the preconception that all lawyers were stuffy and boring but I couldn’t have been more wrong!
In terms of my training contract, I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I am. Up to now I’ve enjoyed all three of my seats (volume, real estate and construction) and have made some firm friends in each team. As a trainee at Clyde & Co you spend three weeks at the start of the training contract in the London office. Manchester and MENA trainees live together for the three weeks and this really helps break the ice and allows you to make friends from the start. I found this invaluable when coming to Dubai on secondment as it ensured that I at least had a couple of friends out here already.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
The most recent email in my inbox is from graduate recruitment with the seat options for the next rotation. This will be my fourth and final seat.
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
Wherever the paralegals are – they know everything!
Describe your training partner in three words.
During my training contract I have had the most contact with Clyde & Co’s graduate manager, Jess Jones. I would describe Jess as diligent, helpful and organised.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
My first bout of work experience when I was 16 years old was at the Houses of Parliament.
I played badminton for the Welsh national team.
I met the Sheikh on the weekend.
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
I probably would have carried on at University to do an MA and PHD and eventually have found my way into politics. If I had my time again, I think I’d go into wedding planning!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
If you don’t have a training contract once you’ve finished your degree or LPC, think about a paralegal job. It will give you excellent practical experience and a foot in the door. My paralegal roles really helped my applications and helped make the transition to being a trainee much easier.