Name: Valery Nformba
Position: Trainee solicitor
Hobbies: Football, movies and travel
Current department: Commercial
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 3/1
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
My sixth form teacher, who remains a mentor of mine to this day, had a big part to play in channelling my skills into a career in law. At school I always had an affinity for persuasive writing and this naturally developed into a keen interest for debating.
I was also very interested in the structure of contemporary businesses, and how they functioned. The law provides a platform where these two interests are interlinked. My tutor taught me that a career as a solicitor would expose me to the intricacies of the challenges facing businesses daily and the reward in finding solutions.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
I was initially overwhelmed at the sheer volume of law firms to choose from. Looking from the outside-in, at first glance almost all reputable city law firms seem to offer a similar experience.
However research soon showed me that each firm in fact has a distinct personality and set of values, and it is this that I think is the most vital aspect to bear in mind when applying. Not only is it important that you demonstrate your capabilities as a candidate, but also that any given firm’s culture and workplace environment is the right fit for you.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
“What motivated you at university on a daily basis?”
Whilst this may not seem a difficult question at first, it was really the first time I had truly considered what I had achieved. My motivation almost exclusively came from the support system of friends and family I had around me. Many people had given up a lot of time and energy to lay down the foundations for my future success, and from this I could not face the thought of failing to reach my potential and letting them down.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
The commercial team deals with all manner of weird and wonderful commercial contracts. In my time here so far, every day has brought a new contract or challenge I have not yet come across in other departments of my training contract – whether that be negotiating service agreements for the supply of catering services to hotels or drafting fundraising arrangements with local charities.
A strong base knowledge of contract law is essential, but stemming from this the variety of work in the commercial team always keeps matters interesting.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
I have particularly loved working in small, partner-led teams. You often hear the stories of late nights spent reviewing an almost endless list of documents, but it is rarely said that more often than not, those times are not spent alone. Working with others makes sharing the workload much easier, and ensures you always have someone to hand to voice any issues.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
I was pleasantly surprised to learn how personable and approachable everyone was. Although work related queries will unsurprisingly dominate the majority of conversations, that is not to say there is no room to discuss the winners and losers of the past weekend’s premier league fixtures!
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
An email from another trainee at a city firm organising a 5-a-side football game for our Legal League.
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
The secretaries. They know all, they see all.
Describe your training partner in three words.
Quirky, intelligent and tall.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
- I bumped into Eddie Murphy on his way into the Oscars in 2007.
- In secondary school I won the regional 100 metre sprint.
- I auditioned to be a member of S Club juniors .
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
A tech entrepreneur (idea still pending!). A younger Alan Sugar perhaps.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Know who you are applying to. It is never too early to start and any extra bit of insight you can gain is invaluable in the long run. Taking the time to meet and talk to people at law firms lets you get a good sense of the types of people they are looking for and ultimately how well you will work alongside them. Never be afraid to just get yourself out there!