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Cooley (UK) LLP

Employee profile

Neelam Atwal

Trainee solicitor

Before Cooley…

I had just graduated from King’s College London and was unsure what my next steps following university would be. I had been working for a pro bono law initiative as a Communications Assistant, part-time at university. As I was based in the offices of a law firm during my time there, I realised I really enjoyed the atmosphere and how varied commercial law can be, so I decided to go out and get more work experience shadowing at a local high street firm. This solidified my interest in law and I decided to make the commitment and complete my GDL whilst going through the application process for Cooley.

Why did you choose to apply to Cooley?

I had been doing a lot of research into law firms, and for me, culture was a huge factor. I didn’t want to feel like I was just another faceless cog in a machine and Cooley really emphasised that this would not be the case. After joining, it does feel as though my work is valued which makes it all the more rewarding. Cooley also runs many diversity schemes such as the women’s initiative, and places a lot of focus on pro bono work. This really stood out to me as being in line with my values and showed that Cooley placed a strong emphasis on things that were important to me too.

How have you found the training and support so far?

As trainees, we have a training programme involving lunchtime sessions to support our learning, (both legal and non-legal skills), as well as general business skills and other important topics for our professional development. We have a great support network in the second year trainees, as well as our supervisors, mentors and legal talent. The associates and partners are always on hand to help and explain things further and really do take a personal interest in our learning and development.

What are some of the typical tasks you have been exposed to as a trainee?

Due diligence is a typical trainee task, with a lot of organisation and coordination required across teams. Working on big M&A deals with well-known household names is really exciting, and knowing you’ve been a large part of doing the ground work for a deal is definitely a highlight. Besides that, there’s been a lot of proofing, which may not seem the most exciting on the face of it but is often the best way to familiarise yourself with the sorts of documents you’d be working with. There have also been some drafting opportunities. These have both been a good way to build a solid foundation in the legal skills needed to become a successful lawyer.

What do you enjoy about working at Cooley?

I love the responsibility I have been given from the beginning. I’ve been made to feel part of the team from day one and people are genuinely interested in how we are getting on and how we are settling in. Getting to work with such a wide range of clients is really exciting and means we are exposed to all types of work, from basic drafting, to the most complex deals. There have been plenty of opportunities for socialising and celebrating achievements, and not forgetting the wonderful cake trolley on Thursdays.

What would you recommend to someone applying to Cooley?

When you apply, be 100% yourself. Cooley really values diversity in every form, whether that is diversity of background, of thinking, of experiences or of passions. Showcase your achievements and what you’ve learnt from them, what you could potentially bring to Cooley as a result, and why you chose to apply to Cooley.