Claire Hooi

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How the graduate got the job and why they chose your company

Though I’d always had an interest in commercial law, I had to work part-time while studying law at university so did not have the time for a vacation/work experience scheme. I was afraid that this would count against me — however, having encountered Slaughter and May’s team at a university law fair, I was encouraged to apply and reassured that the firm appreciated diversity in terms of experiences. Slaughter and May is one of the most reputable firms out there and carries out exceptional legal work for a range of impressive clients, but it was the warmth of the trainees at the law fair and the friendliness of the HR team that drew me to the firm.

I then applied to Slaughter and May and really appreciated the simplicity — only a CV and a cover letter were required. I was invited to interview with two partners. I first had to complete a written exercise and the interview came after. It was very friendly, with the partners asking in-depth about my academic experiences and my part-time work. We also discussed an article about the collapse of a significant construction company (while the article was random, it actually featured a client for both partners, so I learned a lot about the firm’s work). They made huge efforts to make me feel comfortable - there was quite a lot of laughter. One of the partners had also worked throughout university and I appreciated that they made the effort to find commonalities in our experiences. A trainee in the firm then gave me a quick tour. A few days later, one of the interviewing partners called to offer me my training contract and despite having offers from other law firms, I knew that Slaughter and May’s quality and warmth would be unmatched elsewhere and I was very happy to accept.

What the graduate’s role involves: typical activities and key responsibilities

My role has ranged across all my seats. I have been given huge responsibilities in terms of drafting documents, overseeing ancillary transactional processes such as signing and conditions precedent, and liaising directly with clients. I have also had to carry out typical trainee tasks such as proofreading, court filing and document review. It has been a great mixture of work, both great and small. The lack of billable target hours means that I am never afraid to ask questions to partners and associates even if they seem busy. I am always given guidance in an open manner. The support and encouragement has been present throughout lockdown and despite sitting in three seats virtually, I know I have emerged and continue to become a better lawyer overall because of this.

What training the graduate has received

Throughout the pandemic, virtual training beyond typical trainee work has been arranged regularly by the Learning and Development team. The trainers (sometimes external speakers, sometimes our own partners and associates) have found numerous ways to make these interactive and engaging. Each group typically also asks trainees to put together their own training to develop our confidence and speaking abilities – I know speaking to and training a whole department at the firm has certainly made me more confident (even if the process had me shaking in my boots at first!)

What the graduate enjoys about their job

While the work offered to trainees at this firm is unparalleled, I have greatly enjoyed the opportunities on offer outside of work – whether it is pro bono or helping organise events in one of the firm’s networks (of which there are many, including the Christian Network and the DIVERSE Network!). In particular, I have greatly enjoyed being involved with Access Social Care, one of our pro bono partners, which provides free legal advice to people with social care needs. As part of this, I have been required to research certain laws to enable vulnerable people to live safe, independent and fulfilling lives. I was also given the great responsibility of organising trainee-led training in one of my seats – organising presentations by 15 different trainees and myself, to be given to the whole group, was a mammoth exercise but helped me to develop my leadership skills! I have also recently joined the ‘Staying Connected’ committee, where I help give feedback on how to ensure trainees feel ‘connected’ to the firm as we gear up towards returning to the office.

Why they like working for you and anything that is particularly perky!

The firm has provided great support to trainees during the pandemic, including HR keeping in regular contact with trainees affected by the pandemic, especially trainees like me who have not seen our families for close to two years due to border restrictions. To me, one of the best parts of our training contract is that many partners in the firm are assigned trainees (which is not always common) — having had partners as supervisors has been an amazing experience.

PROSPECTS DAY IN THE LIFE OF A TRAINEE (FINANCIAL REGULATION)

7:50am: I start the day with some (virtual) yoga and a smoothie.

9:00am: I fire up my laptop and check my emails to see what I have to do for the day.  

9.30am: This week, I am helping out with the Financial Regulation weekly bulletin (a client-facing newsletter), so I skim the group’s 9.30am email updates and can see that there are a number of summaries to be drafted based on new publications by the European Banking Authority and HM Treasury. I can also see developments in the sanctions arena targeted at Belarus, relevant to one of my matters, so I forward this to the matter partner, who forwards on to the client after review.

10.15am: I hop onto a client call about a Part VII transfer—a court-sanctioned legal transfer of an insurance company’s policies—for the client’s insurance group. We discuss some comments received the night before and talk the client through their options in terms of next steps. I type out a list of action points and am also given the chance to contribute to certain ancillary points.

11.30am: The call ends, and I edit my verbatim notes then circulate these to the partner and senior associate on the matter. I also open up some platform agreements for the transaction, i.e. agreements governing the licensing of our client’s technology platforms which are to be transferred to the buyer, to begin drafting a new section — one of the action points from the call.

2.30pm: I come back online after a lunch break to have a call with my two supervisors, who ensure they catch up with me three times a week. We have a fun chat about what we got up to over the weekend and discuss my work for the rest of the week.

2.45pm: An email comes in from Access Social Care (our pro bono partner), about a vulnerable person seeking help with adapting his living space and an unsupportive local council. I send off my response after reviewing the Care and Support Statutory Guidance and arrange a Teams call for the week after with the social worker. I take five minutes to review some feedback received from a trainee in my intake — as I sit on the Trainee Solicitors’ Committee, I help collate and send feedback upwards regularly.  

3.25pm: I log into a virtual data room, a secure online platform to which relevant transaction documents requiring review are uploaded, to begin my “red-flag” review on certain documents received from the client. This means that I make a note of anything that looks like it warrants further queries, such as whether certain important agreements have expired, or whether certain parties in the documents are based in countries currently subject to UK economic sanctions.

6.45pm: Before I log off, I receive an urgent research task on the EU Travel Package Directive for a preliminary client query that came in from New York. I have never encountered this Directive before and soon discover that it protects European travellers’ rights in terms of package holidays (for example in terms of cancellation, liability and refunds). I get quite stuck in, reading EU parliamentary debates and the protections on offer to consumers (this is also helpful in terms of realising my rights as a tourist and it never ceases to amaze me how the law permeates very facet of our lives!). I eventually summarise my thoughts on the client’s query into an email, including drafting an answer via email to the client for the partner to review.

8.00pm: I receive a call from one of my fellow trainees and we have a good catch-up chat about our days. After the call, I log off for the day completely heartened and I am ready to eat the delicious dinner that my flatmate has kindly cooked for me! 

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