Lara Ali

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Like many lawyers, I was a bit of an argumentative child and I loved proving a point - so naturally everyone told me I should be a lawyer. After some research about studying law, I decided to prove everyone right! During my law degree, I mainly enjoyed the more business-focussed modules. Criminal law, while interesting, was never my thing, but I loved contracts, equity, and company law. I went to a huge amount of open days and insight events from all parts of the legal profession, and I found that my personality seemed to mesh the best with transactional commercial lawyers. I wanted a career where things would never be too easy so I’d have to keep pushing myself, and where I could work with really clever people all the time. No two deals or cases are exactly the same so you are continuously learning and improving as a lawyer. I love the adrenaline of a team banding together and pulling out all the stops to get a transaction over the line, even at 1am! Finally, as you continue to gain experience you start to work on more complicated transactions, draft more complex documents or be involved in more protracted negotiations – these all require a surprising amount of creativity, which is maybe not the most obvious aspect of a career in law but was something that pleasantly surprised me!

There were plenty of reasons why Dentons stood out to me but there were a couple of key factors for me. Firstly, it is obvious that everyone is truly invested in trainee development. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing supervisors and lawyers who genuinely want to help me grow. The firm and all its people are ambitious but not at the expense of others: you don’t get this sense of constant competitiveness because everyone realises that when you do well the whole team looks good, so it’s a really supportive place to be. On a similar vein, it may sound like a minor thing, but everyone always says thank you when you work for them. It’s great to feel appreciated and valued as a member of the team, even as a trainee. Secondly, I have never felt like I needed to be anything other than myself. Dentons is a super diverse place and I have seen people like me represented at all levels of the firm, which I didn’t see at many other places when I was applying. The whole firm buys into the idea that our differences make us stronger so you never have to mould yourself to fit in or do well.

You of course develop your technical knowledge and ability really quickly because the firm really does encourage trainees to take on more responsibility as you progress, so that you continue to learn instead of doing the same tasks for 6 months. You are pushed to get outside your comfort zone – for example, I’ve been asked to lead calls or run a process on my own with very little background – but people also take the time to explain things when you are stuck and give you constructive feedback on where to improve. That encouragement and training means that all of the things I was initially terrified about before I started have become almost second nature now. Importantly, this all has meant that one of the biggest points of development, for me and many other trainees, is just how much my confidence has grown over the past year or so. I trust myself and my ability to succeed, and that has helped me show the lawyers I work with that they can trust me too.

Use your background and experiences to your advantage and don't be afraid to show off your achievements (without sounding too arrogant!). Small wins are just as good – you don’t need to have climbed a mountain or raised a million pounds – just be real and authentic and show them your potential to do great things. Everything you have done up until this point will have taught you valuable life lessons so make sure to draw those out in concrete examples, not just buzzwords you think will look good to Graduate Recruitment. It’s all well and good saying you work well in a team, but anyone could say that. You have to prove it too! Most importantly, think about what value you can add to the firm, be it another language, industry experience, or just a real willingness to put in 100%. Show how you have gone above and beyond before and would do that at Dentons too. Dentons is a global and ambitious firm so they're looking for people who can complement that. We want to be the best so we are looking for trainees who want that too!