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Macfarlanes LLP

Employee profile

Owen Giles

Trainee Solicitor

Why Macfarlanes?

From the point that I aspired to become a solicitor, Macfarlanes stood out for me. I believe that the firm stands for many things which should attract any aspiring trainee solicitor: a strong market reputation for a wide range of practice areas, loyal and reputable clients that involve Macfarlanes in their
interesting matters, and a clear ambition to train and advance its people.

The size of Macfarlanes’ trainee cohort ensures that trainees gain a lot of responsibility from their first day at the firm. From partner down, everybody keeps a keen eye on your development and encourages you to learn on the job, and I believe that the people and culture at Macfarlanes are the
firm’s key selling points.

Recruitment process

I initially joined Macfarlanes as a vacation scheme student in the summer of 2014. I was pleased that the application process encourages students to demonstrate the value of their extra-curricular interests and achievements, alongside their academic record. As a result, it is very interesting to
hear about what other trainees have been up to before joining the firm.

During my vacation scheme, I particularly enjoyed the fictional transaction in which teams of vacation scheme students oppose each other in negotiating the terms of an agreement. This turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences on the vacation scheme, with a face-to-face negotiation on the final day, leading to social drinks to reflect on two weeks of hard work.

The graduate recruitment team were very helpful throughout the training contract assessments, which included a written exercise and both CV-based and case study interviews. I believe the process provided everybody with an equal opportunity to impress. My top tip would be to just be yourself.

Trainee experience

I spent my first six months in the Tax & Structuring department, and I am now sitting in Banking & Finance as a second seat trainee. Immediately, you feel like a valued member of the team contributing to matters, from being tasked with finding legal solutions to client queries, to assisting with managing a transaction through to completion. For example, during my time in Tax & Structuring, I assisted with the tax matters for the global reorganisation of a large multinational client, and assisted with the drafting of tax analysis papers for various investment funds. Since joining the Banking & Finance team, the work has been fast paced. I have been sent to signing meetings at clients’ offices, and closed a transaction by myself (with supervision). I believe that the firm excels in finding the right balance between providing responsibility and support.


Life as a City lawyer obviously requires a strong focus, which sometimes involves working long hours. Macfarlanes recognises, however, that it is important to get a balance and the firm supports many different clubs, including art classes, language classes, sporting teams, and a culture club which
invites interesting figures to the firm to give seminars - but let’s not forget the trainee social committee. Trainees are encouraged to get involved in extra-curricular activities, not least because it allows trainees to expand their network of contacts at Macfarlanes. Personally, I volunteered to assist with the Christmas charity raffle, which broke the firm record for the largest sum raised for the firm’s charity of the year. I also have become involved in the firm’s mentoring scheme, and mentor a young student who is trying to plan ahead for her future career.

I have really enjoyed my time at the firm so far and I would encourage any student to consider applying for a training contract with Macfarlanes.