Training to be a solicitor is a challenging, exciting and daunting experience. Your training contract will come with many perks, such as working on high profile deals, as well as some learning experiences where you might not get things quite right first time. Every firm has its own set of values, culture and strategy; it therefore shouldn’t be a surprise when I tell you that each training contract is completely different. I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure that the firm you are applying to is somewhere you actually want to work. I have therefore outlined below how I came to decide that Irwin Mitchell was the firm for me.
I took, what could be classed as, a fairly traditional route into law. I studied law at York University and then went on to complete my LPC and International Masters in Commercial Law at the University of Law. Prior to attending university, I worked in the NHS in positions such as a manager and research assistant. Once I completed my LPC, I was offered a Paralegal job undertaking NHS defence and Court of Protection work. I found this interesting, but within a few weeks, I knew that this wasn’t an area I wanted to practice in long term. During my LPC, I had chosen to take purely business based modules (commercial law, mergers and acquisitions and public companies) and I found that I really enjoyed these subjects. While some of my LPC colleagues found commercial contracts dry and boring, I found them fascinating and I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in commercial law. I therefore took the opportunity to speak with a visiting trainee solicitor to the University of Law before applying. I explained that although my background was more Personal Legal Services (‘PLS’) I actually had a keen interest in pursuing the Business Legal Services (‘BLS’) route. To my surprise she encouraged me to apply for the BLS route and explained that my application would need to show a keen interest in my chosen area. I took her advice and to my delight was offered a BLS training contract.
The BLS/ PLS training contract split is a fantastic way to structure your training contract to ensure that you gain exposure and experience in the areas which you find the most interesting. As a BLS trainee, you will gain exposure to fantastic clients, high profile work and great people. The training contract is hard work but you are surrounded by a fantastic support system in your fellow trainees and supervisors. One of the things I noticed immediately during my training contract is that Irwin Mitchell actively seeks to promote a healthy work/ life balance with its employees. There are also some great social events and activities for you to get involved in. Furthermore, the firm actively encourages trainees to develop in their role, and supervisors always ensure that time is put aside to chat through tasks and feedback. I have completed three seats so far, and can say that all of my supervisors have had a genuine interest in developing me as a solicitor and giving me the best training possible.
As a trainee I am often asked what tips I would give to students thinking of applying to Irwin Mitchell. Firstly, I would recommend reading up on the firm and focus on your preference for business or personal law. If you are undecided, I would recommend keeping an eye on the news and trying to identify which legal stories draw your interest. Secondly, make sure that your application has been thoroughly checked as poor spelling and grammatical errors are not a good first impression. Finally, when attending assessment centres or interviews at any firm try and be prepared - re-read your application, get good nights sleep and aim to give the best impression possible!