Nicole Clerk

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My journey into a legal career

I studied English Language & Linguistics at King's College London and after graduating, I worked at a PR agency where issues of the law intertwined with my everyday work. Whilst in this role, I grew more and more interested in the connection between law and commerce and the strategic thinking involved in making legal decisions. I decided to visit a law fair to learn more about working in a law firm. At the fair, I met the RPC Graduate Recruitment team and was able to speak with current trainees. I was reassured that coming from a non-law background is in no way a disadvantage and applicants from all academic disciplines are welcome to apply.

I applied for the RPC Summer Scheme because I wanted to get a real feel of working life at the firm, the opportunity to meet its lawyers and business services staff and to experience the culture first-hand. The scheme attracted me because of the smaller intake, high quality work and impressive client roster, as well as the approachable and friendly working environment nature which I felt would foster my personal development.

The RPC Summer Scheme

On the Summer Scheme I spent a week in the Intellectual Property department on the Commercial side of the firm. This was followed by a week in the Professional & Financial Risks department on the Insurance side of the firm. During the scheme, I was able to join a litigation strategy call where the firm's lawyers weighed up the potential success rates of different litigation options. I also helped draft key case documents to submit to the court. I even attended a court hearing for one of the firm's biggest clients which was covered in the mainstream press the next day.

Sitting in an open plan office, I was able to learn through osmosis and truly felt part of the teams I was in. I also took part in a blog competition and wrote about the legal issues surrounding meme culture. I ended up winning the competition and my article was published on the firm's intranet which was a great profile-raising opportunity.

I felt very welcome in the firm and although I spent most of my time with the two teams I was sitting in, lawyers sitting in other departments kindly took the time to meet with me to give insight into their day-to-day working lives. I always recommend that applicants consider undertaking a scheme at firms they are interested in as they are truly a two-way process of you getting to know the firm and seeing if it’s the right fit for you (and vice versa). Following the scheme, I was offered a training contract which I was delighted to accept.

My training contract (so far)

I started my training contract in September 2020 and my first seat was in the Corporate team where I was able to gain experience in M&A transactions, assisted with regulatory advice and worked on finance matters. I enjoyed the fast-paced nature of Corporate and the fact that I was able to work with everyone on the team and across such a wide variety of matters. I was able to meet and interact with clients and was trusted as a point of contact on a particular matter.

My second seat is in Commercial and Banking Litigation, where I am able to work on high-profile international matters and have gained a better understanding of the various stages of litigation. I started my training contract in the virtual workplace and have felt supported, included and connected through video calling and instant messaging platforms.

Outside of client work, I have been able to get involved in the firm's Ethnicity workstream which is a working group of individuals across the firm promoting ethnic diversity and inclusion through practical initiatives. I have also been able to contribute bulletins, blogs and have given presentations to colleagues; all of which have developed key skills further and helped to build relationships with those outside of my direct teams.

Prospective applicants should prepare by thinking about the key skills required of a trainee solicitor, ensuring you are able to demonstrate each of them or by seeking experiences to help develop these further. Those who have worked in another industry before applying should identify strengths gained and highlight the parallels between your experiences and the tasks you'd be doing as part of your training contract.