Beth, a Law graduate from University of Bristol, started her training contract with Clyde & Co during the summer of 2020. We caught up with her to hear how she found joining the firm virtually and what Clydes have done to support her during the pandemic.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background
My name is Beth Clarke. I am currently a second seat Trainee at Clyde & Co, working mostly on property and product liability claims. Before this I studied law at the University of Bristol and secured a Vacation Scheme at Clydes in my third year, from which I was offered the training contract. Following this I spent a year working as a professional negligence paralegal, before starting the LPC at the University of Law and joining Clydes in August 2020.
What attracted you to Clyde & Co and the Training Contract?
I was initially attracted to the firm because of its excellent reputation in its key sectors, particularly in relation to Insurance where it is a market leader. The firm has also undergone a massive expansion in recent years and now operates in many different jurisdictions, allowing it to attract big and interesting clients and meaning that much of its work has an international element, which is something that I was very interested in.
After taking part in the firm’s Vacation Scheme I was also attracted to the culture at Clyde & Co. I found people at all levels, including the Partners, to be very approachable, friendly and happy to talk. This has continued into my training contract, even with the work from home environment, where I have found that my colleagues are genuinely interested in getting to know me and helping me progress.
Describe a typical day in your role
During April the firm reopened Its London office for people to go in on a voluntary basis. Since then I have been spending around three days a week in the office. Whether I am at home or in the office I usually start work at around 9am, though If I am having a particularly busy week I will start earlier to make sure that I am in a good position to meet any upcoming deadlines.
Firstly, I check my emails to see whether anything has come in since the previous day that requires my immediate attention. If not, then I will turn to my to do list. I generally write my to do list for the next day before logging off every evening so that in the morning I already have an idea of my priorities for the day. I find this really useful because I am generally the most productive in the mornings, so it allows me to hit the ground running.
In my current seat typical Trainee tasks include drafting instructions to counsel and corresponding with counsel’s clerk, drafting letters to the other side, assisting in the preparation of documents such as settlement agreements, bundling and conducting research into specific points of law.
I take a break for lunch at around 1pm and I will usually go out for a walk to get some fresh air (if it isn’t raining!).
On a quieter day I usually work on my most urgent tasks in the morning and then turn to the less urgent tasks if the afternoon, but on busier days it is often necessary to be ready to adapt as tasks come in.
How did you find your virtual onboarding process?
As I started my training contract in August 2020, my onboarding process was entirely virtual. The firm ran a number of induction sessions on things such as how to use Clyde’s’ IT systems and time recording. This was really useful as WFH can make it more difficult to pick these things up. The process also involved a number of skills workshops on things such as building a virtual network, which helped with virtually meeting my supervisor and other people within the firm for the first time and throughout my first seat.
The early careers team also ran a number of virtual socials and arranged panel events with Partners, Associates and second year Trainees, which did help to make me feel more like I was part of the firm.
What have Clyde & Co done to support you in your working from home experience?
Right from the start of the training contract Clydes provided all Trainees with laptops. We have also been sent phones, a wireless mouse, headsets, computer chairs and the firm even reimbursed anyone who had purchased a desk. Having this setup has helped me to feel comfortable working from home and allows me to work just as efficiently as I would be able to from the office.
My supervisors have also made an extra effort to get to know me and ensure that I am still getting the full Trainee experience while working from home. My current supervisor and I have weekly catch up calls and I speak to other members of the team on a daily basis over the phone and via our internal messaging service. The team also makes sure that I am invited along to client calls and internal strategy calls which have helped me develop a better understanding of the matters that I am involved with.
Additionally, we had a number of virtual Trainee socials at Christmas and the early careers team run weekly Trainee yoga and HiiT sessions to keep everyone connected!
What are you most looking forward to about getting back into the office?
Since the firm reopened the office in April, I have been really enjoying meeting up with other Trainees. I’m really looking forward to having some in-person Trainee socials during the next few months as we have not been able to come together as a full cohort in over a year!
During the last few weeks I have also had the opportunity to meet my supervisor and most of those that I work with closely in person. We even managed to go for a drink together! This has made me feel much more like a member of the team and I am looking forward to meeting more people from this team and from my last team in person and having the opportunity to learn from them in the office. While people in the firm are very friendly and happy to discuss tasks over the phone, I find that it is much more natural to simply knock on someone’s office door and discuss a task in person.
Do you have any tips for Bright Network members keen to join Clyde & Co?
My first tip is to make sure you really get to know the firm prior to applying. This doesn’t just mean doing research online, though this is important. One of the positives of the current virtual environment is that firm insight days and networking events have become more accessible to many, so If you are interested in the firm, attending one of its virtual events is a really good way to get to know what it is really like to work there, demonstrate your commitment, and even start making connections who you can then write about in your application. The fact that these events are now more accessible means that that those who do not make the effort to attend are missing out on an opportunity to get recognised!
I would also recommend making sure that your application details why you would be a good fit for the firm, by reference to the things that make Clyde & Co unique, such as its reputation for insurance, marine and aviation work. Explain how your experiences and skills have given you a keen Interest in these areas or are transferable to this type of work. A generic application which simply lists why you like the firm without providing any evidence is less likely to get you noticed than one that demonstrates that you have clearly thought about why Clydes is the right firm for you.
Anything else to add?
I know that applying for Vacation Schemes and training contracts can be very time consuming and especially hard to balance with university or a job. This is why it is so important to make sure you apply to firms that you are actually interested in and where you could see yourself working rather than just firing off as many applications as possible. This will be a much more effective use of your time and your enthusiasm is much more likely to shine through in your application and interviews if is genuine. That being said, don’t be disheartened if you are rejected, it is part of the process and has happened to most people who are eventually successful at obtaining training contracts at some stage. If you would like any more advice on applying to Clydes I am more than happy to help!
To find out more about Clyde & Co and to view their opportunities, click here.