Sixty-second interview: Emma Finlayson, Osborne Clarke

Name: Emma Finlayson

Firm: Osborne Clarke

Position: Trainee solicitor

Degree: Music

University: Oxford

Hobbies: Squash, netball, cycling, music

Current department: Property litigation

Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 6/4

Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?

I first became interested in law when studying music copyright as part of my degree. I then joined the Oxford Law Society, which hosts interesting talks and some great events that really helped me make my decision to train as a solicitor. So I started applying for open days at London law firms, which helped me decide on the type of legal career I wanted.

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

I interviewed for training contracts before I had studied the GDL, so I had very little legal knowledge. Although most firms say you don’t need to have studied law to succeed at an assessment day, I think it made the process more difficult.

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

Why are you here if you study Music?

Firstly, studying a non-law degree offers variety, a different approach and an alternative perspective to a law firm. Secondly, my degree was both academic and performance based. I learnt time management and writing skills in much the same way as other humanities degree students. Thirdly, having to practise diligently and perform in public are two valuable skills regularly employed by musicians, which transfer easily to the workplace as quite often you are required to prepare for presentations, court hearings and client meetings.

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

We advise on rights to light, rent reviews and dilapidations claims. I have also been to court on numerous occasions while in my property litigation seat. These hearings have been hugely varied, covering issues such as costs, the validity of service of notices and ownership disputes.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

The people I work with; Osborne Clarke is an extremely sociable firm.

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

The sheer variety of work: from bundling (litigation) to closing deals (transactional) and everything in between.

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

An associate in corporate emailed me suggesting a healthy vending machine for the office. (I’m part of a committee that acts as a forum for employees to make suggestions on how to improve the firm).

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

There’s one particular associate in real estate who always has the lowdown.

Describe your training partner in three words.

Encouraging, friendly and talkative.

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

  • I was stung by a sting ray.
  • I am colour blind.
  • I failed my driving theory test.

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

I would probably have gone into publishing. I like grammar and spelling!

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

Persevere through the assessment day and interview process. It’s easy to become disheartened, but it’s worth it!