Pascale Devlin, Coffin Mew

Name: Pascale Devlin

Firm: Coffin Mew

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Geography (BA)

University: Kings College London

Hobbies: Skiing, travel, tennis

Current department: Commercial and Employment

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

Pascale Devlin, Coffin Mew

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

It has been my ambition to become a solicitor right from my very distant prep school days. I enjoy the overlap between the application of law and providing practical and commercial solutions to clients whether in a business or personal context.

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

Ultimately to make the decision to either train in London or at a regional firm. I opted for the later, after various vacation schemes, which has proved to be without a doubt the right decision for me. I’ve had considerably more involvement in transactions than my peers training in London. There’s also the added bonus of working on the South Coast and having the option of an after work trip to the beach on those, all too rare, heatwave summer evenings!

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

As cliché as it sounds, the worst question was always ‘ why do you want to be a solicitor’ for the simple reason that it’s probably the question that you can’t help but give a slightly generic answer. I tried to tailor my answer to specific experiences I gained while studying and during legal and non legal work experience.

At almost every interview I attended there was usually a question relating to current affairs of the day. I will never forget being in an interview and being asked a question which related to one of the firm’s largest clients.

Luckily for me I had already familiarised myself with the firm’s significant clients and therefore clocked onto the article featured in The Times that morning which lead to a barrage of ‘commercial questions’ based on that article. Top tip – know the firm’s clients, do a quick internet search for current press and think about commercial options!

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

At my firm Commercial and Employment are combined to offer Commercial and Employer Services. The commercial branch encompasses a range of work from intellectual property rights to commercial agency and terms and conditions for the supply of goods and service. Work in the employment branch of the department includes large scale redundancies, employment tribunals, providing support to in-house HR departments for general employee matters, and drafting suits of documents for companies who perhaps have never formally created standard documents or could benefit from a review of existing ones.

Given the breadth of work covered, it is safe to say that no two days are ever the same!

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

The constant variety of work I experience every day and the variety of departments I have sat in during my training contract so far.

Being part of a fantastic team makes all the difference. It was really important to me when I was deciding where to apply for training contracts, and ultimately when I accepted my offer, that I really got a sense of the culture of the firm.

Developing the skills to be able to take a step back and consider what makes the most sense for a client commercially.

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

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of business development events I have had the opportunity to attend. My firm actively encourages trainees to get involved with both internal and external events. This has been a great way for me to experience ‘networking’ and to establish my own contacts within various sectors.

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

I assisted a solicitor to draft a bonus scheme. Our client has answered a few clarification queries that we raised and my next task is to incorporate our client’s responses to the document.

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

Trainees are famed for knowing ‘the gossip’ at our firm so my usual first port of call is to one of my fellow trainees. I should clarify that we don’t create gossip we just happen to hear a lot of it!

Describe your training partner in three words.

Approachable

Ambitious

Driven

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

  • I lived in Hong Kong for 5 years.
  • I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro.
  • I’ve snorkelled with sharks.

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

My degree was heavily focused on economic development particularly in Southern African and South East Asia. I would probably have pursued a career at a Think Tank or NGO specifically in development strategy.

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

Get as much legal work experience as possible to make an informed decision that law is the right career for you. Getting a training contract is a tough process and at times it seems never ending! If you are passionate and driven you will get there so keep positive and don’t give up!