Name: Rachelle Issa
Firm: Pinsent Masons
Position: Trainee solicitor
University: University of Nottingham
Hobbies: Travelling, skiing, scuba diving
Current department: Litigation
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 10 / 2
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
I enjoyed my law degree and wanted to explore the practical side of the law. I undertook work experience at a city law firm when I was at school and vacation schemes during my second year of university. These opportunities confirmed I was interested in applying for training contracts.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
It was very difficult to progress from application stage to getting an interview. Often you are competing against 2,000 applicants to be interviewed and I found it hard to show my skills on paper.
I learnt that the biggest mistake is to copy and paste across applications – a good application should be very specifically tailored to the firm you are applying to and usually takes at least a week to finish.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
I had a number of technical questions which considered certain topical issues at the time in depth (such as petrol tax, the Eurozone crisis and fracking).
I had kept up to date with the news and tried to ensure that every argument I advanced was based on logical and thoughtful consideration. There aren’t really right or wrong answers in interviews but keeping up to date with the news well before an interview is essential.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
I work in litigation and specifically working in civil asset and asset recovery. I am working on a number of matters at various stages of the dispute lifecycle. My work currently includes submitting an interim application to court, attending and preparing for case management conferences ahead of trial and various aspects business development work.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
It is incredibly varied and no day is the same.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
The office is open plan and I share a pod with a solicitor, associate and two partners. I did not expect there to be as much knowledge-sharing or opportunity to mix with different levels of seniority.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
Most litigious work is highly confidential – unfortunately I can’t share that information!
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
The hub (Pinsent Masons café).
Describe your training partner in three words.
Knowledgeable, engaging, strategic
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
- I speak Arabic fluently;
- I am a twin; and
- I am distantly related to Shakira.
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
Scuba diving instructor.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Try to do as much work experience as possible before applying for training contracts. Never underestimate the power of networking (at university events, school, on the train!) – you never know who you could be speaking to.