Colleagues smiling at camera

I decided to apply for a training contract at Shoosmiths after taking part in a commercial awareness workshop run by the graduate recruitment team. I was in my third year of my law degree at the University of Birmingham and they portrayed the firm as innovative, modern and ambitious. This really appealed to me (and still does!) so I researched the firm further and made an application.

I was invited to an assessment day in the summer of 2013 and my first impressions of Shoosmiths were confirmed. While I wasn’t offered a training contract that year, I was put on the reserve list which I was pleased about. I’d got closer than I ever had before to achieving my goal.

Following the assessment day, all candidates are offered the opportunity to receive feedback from the recruitment team. I eagerly scheduled in my call and found it really useful. They identified that in order to improve I needed more experience and to be more confident. To help me develop in these areas I applied for paralegal jobs in different firms around Birmingham, including Shoosmiths.

I was thrilled to secure a role as a paralegal in the asset finance team. I learnt so much in my first year with the firm and really began to have confidence in a commercial setting. I was given lots of responsibility, client contact and developed my understanding of the legal market.

I found Shoosmiths to be a great place to work and the people were so welcoming. I felt like I had a ready-made set of friends. In 2014, I applied for the training contract again and attended an assessment day. I actually enjoyed the day, it was well-structured, had a clear theme and I felt comfortable.

I was ecstatic to hear I had secured a training contract to start in September 2016. In the meantime, I kept working at the firm as a paralegal. Shoosmiths paid for my LPC which I did part time at the weekends. It was tough studying while working full time but the firm were supportive and offered me study leave around exam time and my supervisors were very understanding.

After completing the LPC, I started my training contract. The trainee induction week was really fun and a great opportunity for us to bond as a group and build a support network for the coming years. All the trainees from across the country spent the week together in the Birmingham and Milton Keynes offices. As well as receiving presentations from key members of the firm, we went to an outdoor adventure centre and took part in a hot yoga class. This reflects the fact the Shoosmiths aren’t all about being stuck at your desk and encourage employees have a life outside work.

My first seat was in real estate (residential development). It was a steep learning curve and very different to what I had been doing as a paralegal. I embraced the challenge and developed a number of useful skills in particular, client care, drafting and file management.

I then spent my second seat with the corporate team which I really enjoyed. I was fortunate to receive a wide variety of work while I was in the team and a good amount of client contact and responsibility. I attended completion meetings with clients which were really exciting and my confidence improved in this seat as a result of the support I received.

I’m currently sitting in our regulatory team. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on some really high profile matters and attend court, client meetings and conferences with counsel. I also helped to deliver some client training on anti-money laundering which was a real highlight and I enjoy supporting the team on a variety of matters both contentious and non-contentious. The team are really supportive and always keen to involve me in their cases so I can get as much experience as possible - I’ve really enjoyed this seat so far!

I am also very pleased to have been shortlisted for Trainee Solicitor of the Year at the Birmingham Law Society Awards. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony next month and I’m really looking forward to the event. I am nominated for the pro bono and charity activities that I take part in, which the firm have supported me in undertaking throughout my training.

I’m due to qualify in September 2018 and I would love to stay at Shoosmiths. It has a positive, open and team-orientated environment which allows its employees to thrive. It is often at the forefront of new developments, such as moving to an agile working model, and cares about its people.

So that’s my story so far! Here are my tips for prospective applicants based on what I’ve learnt on my journey:

Rejection is part of the process – keep going and learn from any knock backs, turn them into positives!
Get as much feedback as possible and act on it – take confidence from the positive comments you receive and take a proactive approach to improving areas that need development.
Try to get as wide a variety of work from as many team members as possible during your training contract – you’re only in each seat for six months so make the most of it and get as much experience as you can!

Hannah Short is a second year trainee solicitor in Shoosmiths’ Birmingham office