I had an idea that I might like to become a lawyer when I was in Sixth Form but, because I knew I could always do a law conversion, I decided to study History at university. I took a year off after graduating to assess my options and spent the year working as a tutor, travelling and gaining legal work experience: I completed two vacation schemes at law firms and a couple of mini-pupillages at barristers' chambers. Before long, I was determined to secure a training contract and began the process of sending out applications.
I was attracted by RPC's reputation as an ambitious, friendly, mid-size firm with top quality work. I found that I genuinely enjoyed the tasks and interviews on the assessment day, which seemed geared to bring out the best in applicants, and it was an easy decision to accept the offer of a training contract starting in September 2015.
My first seat was in Commercial Disputes, where I worked on a range of banking and commercial litigation matters including the Bank St Petersburg v Arkhangelsky trial, one of The Lawyer magazine’s top 20 cases of 2016. Working on the trial was an incredible experience, which involved going to court on an almost daily basis, watching top QCs conduct cross examination and sitting in on strategy meetings. More standard trainee tasks included keeping on top of Russian translations and the mammoth trial bundle, which was over 200 lever arch files.
In March 2016 I moved to the Financial Risks team in the Insurance group, which acts on claims made under insurance policies covering financial institutions and professionals. London insurers cover risks all over the world and I've enjoyed the international nature of the work. Particular highlights include working on claims arising from the Fundão dam disaster in Brazil and a bank raid in eastern Ukraine during the pro-Russian separatist uprisings in 2014.
RPC offers a number of client secondments for trainees and I recently spend a month at an insurance broker, where I assisted with claims and their Cyber and M&A Insurance teams. Secondments are a great opportunity to understand the clients' perspective, experience the work of an in house lawyer and build your network in the legal sector.
Whilst life as a trainee can be challenging at times, there are a range of support structures in place to fall back on. Trainees have a partner and associate supervisor in every seat, a mentoring programme linking trainees with senior associates, and a trainee buddy system. The open plan office and non-hierarchical culture make it easy to seek advice from those around you and the trainees usually colonise a table in the Café at lunchtime to swap stories and unwind.
Trainees are encouraged to get involved in the social life of the firm, with events revolving around the three houses Reynolds, Porter and Chamberlain. Recent house events include a St Patrick's Day party and a Wimbledon night watching the tennis with Pimm's and strawberries and cream. I recently played for RPC in the Lloyd's Rugby 7s, a huge social event in the insurance industry calendar, and went skiing at Easter with over 50 people from across the firm.
I am almost halfway through my training contract now and am looking forward to the challenges and experiences that the year ahead will bring.