Developing a keen interest in entering the world of commercial law, while studying Law at Durham, it was unsurprising that Slaughter and May was well reputed among students and professors. However, it wasn’t just the prestige of the firm or its reputation for delivering top legal services to a variety of high calibre clients that inspired me to apply. It was the people I met, who were so passionate about their work and the firm’s commitment to developing well-rounded and passionate lawyers.
From this basis I applied for the firm’s work experience scheme and was delighted to find myself getting an interview. That interview, however, didn’t go exactly the way I wanted. But I was not deterred and focused on applying directly for the training contract. Needless to say that interview went slightly better. It may seem strange to say, but both these interviews were highly enjoyable. The partners are determined to challenge you on your views; debating moral, ethical and political ideas which made it an interview like no other.
Upon starting at Slaughter and May, I soon learnt that a day as a trainee solicitor is not often typical. I tend to start by checking over my emails and prioritising my workload whilst drinking my first coffee of the day, but what happens next really does vary. There will be some days where you are researching complex points of law to answer what seems like a very niche question. There are others where you will be involved in drafting a range of documents for a transaction or sitting in on client calls with your supervisor. Your training contract is about binding together your day-to-day work into a huge amount of professional development, and the firm’s commitment to you as a trainee is highly rewarding.
The same can be said about finishing your day. There are some days when you are out the door by 18:00 and there others where you may find yourself still editing that deed of amendment after hours However, the firm’s no facetime culture ensures that if you don’t have to stay late then you won’t. It also allows you to take responsibility for your own time. There have been a number of occasions where I have had work due the next morning but had agreed to meet a friend for dinner – I would go for dinner and then finish working from home. Developing a work-life balance is a key skill I have learnt over the process of my training contract, managing your time efficiently is key to focusing at work and on yourself.
Being a trainee really does offers a real breadth of opportunities; both in terms of challenging and intellectually stimulating work as well as the ability to help support the ethos at the firm. Aside from the billable work, trainees are encouraged get involved in the firm’s recruitment programme. This not only involves showing potential trainees around the office but joining work experience students for a night of table tennis or a virtual escape room. I have also had the pleasure of returning to Durham to present to prospective applicants and then chat to future trainees over dinner.
Another important aspect of life at Slaughter and May, is the range of networks that we have. Being a part of a network is a great experience. It not only allows you to connect with new people in the firm, but allows you to contribute to creating the inclusive atmosphere that makes Slaughter and May a great place to work. Networks allow you to have input into the firm’s culture, a highly rewarding aspect of working for Slaughter and May that I never considered when applying. I am an active member of PRISM (the firm’s LGBT+ network), which organises a range of events such as a trans-inclusion discussion and a lunchtime talk by Matthew Todd on queer mental health.
Overall, my time as a trainee has been one of immense personal and professional development. I’ve grown in legal knowledge, business acumen and confidence. Slaughter and May invest highly in their trainees, ranging from the learning experiences, opportunities to get involved in research, drafting and writing legal notes. The opportunities to work on high profile transactions, engage with a range of clients and to develop my own skills has made working at Slaughter and May truly rewarding.