Michelle Ansah, Mayer Brown

Name: Michelle Ansah

Firm: Mayer Brown

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Geography

University: King’s College London

Hobbies: Reading, art, travelling and theatre

Current department: Corporate

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 8/5

Michelle Ansah, Mayer Brown

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

Following conversations with friends and family in the legal profession, I decided to get some legal work experience. This is where I began to see the practical effect of law and its daily application to all aspects of life. The opportunity to facilitate and bring to fruition the objectives of clients, from a legal and commercial standpoint, greatly appealed to me and as a trainee solicitor I am able to synthesise a range of interests with the law.

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

One of the biggest challenges I initially faced when trying to secure a training contract was how to distinguish between law firms when I had only read about them instead of visiting them. It certainly makes a huge difference to your decision making and your overall application when you have visited a law firm. In order to combat this and focus my attention on an acute number of firms, I attended law fairs, open days, talks, events and vacation schemes.

Visiting law firm offices and networking with lawyers provided me with an insight into the culture of the firm which made it easier for me to genuinely explain my interest in a firm.

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

I remember being asked a set of very specific questions about a particular firm’s strategy. This included thinking about the various external challenges facing the firm but also the prospective changes to the legal sector.

It is a good question to demonstrate a candidate’s appreciation for the operation of a firm as a business and is one that is often underestimated by candidates. If you are asked this question, in any variation, it is a good way of simultaneously demonstrating your commercial knowledge and knowledge of the firm. There is a plethora of information on a firm’s website so the information is easily accessible.

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

Corporate is a transactional seat and covers a broad range of sectors. Our portfolio of work includes public and private mergers and acquisitions (M&A), corporate restructuring, private equity, outsourcing and funds.

As a result, trainees sitting in corporate have a variety of corporate practice areas they can get involved in and the deals often have an international component to them.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

I really enjoy the day to day responsibilities, being able to work in such a collaborative environment and being valued as a team member. I have enjoyed working on some interesting and sophisticated deals and as a result, it is great to reflect on tasks I have done and acknowledge the continued investment by the firm in my professional development.

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

I wasn’t quite expecting the breadth of opportunities, provided by the firm, to get involved in extra-curricular activities. So far, I have been involved in two pro bono initiatives and attended various events organised by the firm after work.

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 secretary regarding a client we are inviting to an upcoming event that my department is organising. I am in charge of managing the invite list across certain platforms and it involves liaising with a range of colleagues and departments.

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

The trainees.

Describe your training partner in three words.

Knowledgeable, approachable, patient.

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

  • I have never been to Peru
  • I have been a contestant on Take Me Out
  • I have met Damian Lewis

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

My sixth form teacher often said that I should be a BBC news presenter…

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

My advice would be to meet and speak to people. Networking is a great way to gain an insight into the profession and into a firm. It can also lead to getting work experience and building your application. There are so many events that firms and graduate recruitment hold for prospective candidates and so it would be a shame not to tap into those resources.