I obtained my training contract with DLA Piper through a direct training contract application. There are many reasons why I chose to apply to DLA Piper, mainly due to a combination of the firm’s size, expertise and values. The firm’s size provides many opportunities to engage in international work with colleagues from across the world which is both exciting and speaks to the importance of work you are involved in. The level of expertise at the firm is exceptional and as a trainee I felt it was paramount to learn from some of the best lawyers in the world. Given the size and expertise of the firm, you may expect it to be impersonal with a solely work-orientated focus. Yet, everyone in the firm is incredibly friendly and takes a real interest in you as an individual. It is clear lawyers at DLA Piper love what they do, where they do it and who they do it with, which is exactly what I was seeking for my own career.
My typical day as a trainee consists of responding to emails from clients and colleagues, drafting documents, performing research tasks, attending meetings, proof-reading and any extra-curricular activities that I may be engaged with on any given day. Ultimately, the day consists of what senior colleagues expect of you and what you choose to proactively take on. In this sense, the day can really depend on the work and opportunities you have gotten involved with, then as you progress throughout your legal profession the level of responsibility and work increases but the tasks remain largely consistent, with the added power of delegation. As I have rotated from one practice area to another, I have received the relevant training required for me to have a base-level understanding of the nature of work performed in that practice area. In narrower practice areas such as Real Estate Planning this training can involve understanding niche documentation and the planning policies implemented by particular local authorities. In broad practice areas like Intellectual Property and Technology, the training encompasses a number of areas such as competition law, service agreements, data protection and more. Nevertheless, the real training occurs whilst you are performing the work. Senior solicitors will ask you to provide an initial draft of an email and/or document for them to review and amend accordingly. It is these tasks which provide the most training as the senior solicitor will explain their amendments to better assist your drafting in the future.
The training contract scheme at DLA Piper involves 4 ‘seats’ (i.e. placements) each for a period of 6 months and in different practice areas of the firm. There is also the opportunity to do either a client or international secondment with the firm. After the 2-year training contract scheme has finished, you apply for the practice area you would like to work within.
What I enjoy most about the role is the drafting of legal documents. The ability to manipulate language and syntax to create obligations and cover eventualities is a problem I thoroughly enjoy trying to solve. Moreover, negotiations with the other side can become a chess match where you try to understand why they have made certain amendments and how you can progress the negotiation whilst retaining the ‘must have’ points for your client.
The most difficult challenge for me (like most I’m sure) has been working from home. To overcome this challenge, I tried to reach out to team members as often as possible which was initially daunting but ultimately served me well as I got to know each team member personally during our phone calls. My supervisor calls me every day to ensure I’m receiving good quality of work, not being overwhelmed by my workload and to check on my general well-being. Moreover, as soon as we were able to return to the office, he and the rest of the team regularly attended to guarantee I was receiving the very best training.
The culture at DLA Piper is orientated around working hard with great and friendly people. The perk which I am currently enjoying the most is our new offices in Chamberlain Square. The high-tech facilities, table tennis, gym equipment and balcony have all made the return to the office that much better.