Sam van Besouw
I applied for a training contract at Travers Smith during the second year of my law degree. I first thought about applying here after speaking to a couple of trainees from the firm at the university law fair that year, who were helpful and insightful when telling me about the type of work they did at Travers Smith, and were very enthusiastic about working there. After doing some more research of my own (and digging out proof of my Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award) I sent off my application and, after two partner-led interviews, was offered a training contract to start in March 2018.
I'm currently sat in the Real Estate department, my third seat out of four, having previously spent time in both the Finance and Dispute Resolution departments. During my time so far in Real Estate I have worked on a wide variety of matters, from carrying out due diligence as part of billion-pound deals to negotiating agreements directly with other lawyers and completing deals by myself (admittedly not billion-pound ones quite yet).
For my second seat I spent six months in the Dispute Resolution department working on one (huge) case, which really gave me the chance to learn my way around the facts of the case and the relevant areas of law – by the end of the seat I felt like an expert on the disclosure of translated documents! Typical tasks included reviewing evidence, producing research notes and attending a number of meetings with our client and barristers. One of my most exciting (and most terrifying) days in the department was attending an important court hearing for which I had helped prepare a number of documents – thankfully it all went smoothly and we came away with a good result.
My first seat was in Finance and (once I had worked out how to use the printer) saw me involved with drafting board minutes and shareholder resolutions, reviewing security documents and being responsible for managing entire workstreams on deals. As a transactional practice it was very fast-paced, meaning I had to be prepared to handle anything thrown my way – on one occasion I was responsible for going through the board minutes I had drafted in front of a full board of directors, and then answering various questions they had about the transaction.
Something that stands out is the sheer variety of the work I have done so far. At the risk of sounding cliché, no two days are the same here, and I find myself constantly learning about and working on new things. Although this can be daunting at times, I've found that people are very supportive and willing to help or give advice if needed.
One of the best things about working here is the room-sharing system, where each trainee typically sits with two associates and one partner. This gives you the chance to observe and learn from the people in your room – even if it is something as simple as how to speak to a client on the phone. It also helps contribute to an inclusive and sociable atmosphere where you get to know the partners and associates, and can share a joke together.
There are also a number of opportunities to socialise outside of the office – I have recently started playing for the firm's football team (3 appearances, 0 goals), and there are frequent drinks, music events and various other trips out (with Bounce, the local table tennis themed bar, being a particular favourite). The size of the firm, and the fact that you rotate across four departments as a trainee, means that you'll always be able to find people to chat to over drinks/attend a concert with/beat at table tennis. The friendly, supportive atmosphere, along with the top-quality work I have been involved with, has made my time so far at Travers Smith fun, challenging and rewarding in equal measure, and I am looking forwards to see what the rest of my training contract holds.