Siobhan, an International Legal Studies graduate from the University of Southampton, is a Newly Qualified (NQ) solicitor at Clyde & Co, having been a paralegal there beforehand. She let us know about day-to-day life at the firm and how she found the application process.
How's your experience at Clyde & Co been?
It’s been great! Clyde & Co is a really nice firm to work for – everyone is welcoming and the work is rewarding. You can ask anyone a question, regardless of their position in the firm, because there’s a real sense of community where people are always willing to help with anything.
What attracted you to Clyde & Co and the role?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do after university but becoming a paralegal at Clyde & Co helped me find my path. Working here made me want to prepare for the bar and so I did mini tutelages and eventually applied for a training contract. What drew me into the firm was the litigation, the atmosphere and, most importantly, the work itself. One of the fields that the firm specialises in is Shipping Law, which I did a module on in my final year at university and enjoyed a lot. These types of niche focus areas that Clyde & Co work on appealed to me because of how non-corporate the work was and how I would be able to work on cases that genuinely interested me.
My passion for law started in school where I was part of the politics club and the debate team. I always enjoyed the formulation of arguments and how the world works, and law is such a significant part of these.
Do you have any hints and tips on how to make your application stand out?
My top tip is to understand the work you’re doing. Trainees do much better in their tasks if they make the effort to think about why they’re doing them. It is fundamental to have an understanding of the legal sector and the way it works in order to form your own opinion and contribute your own input. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions – it’s important to be proactive, inquisitive and enthusiastic.
I thought that university careers fairs and law events were pointless and that, because so many people went to these events, they wouldn’t help me in applications. I was completely wrong; these events are great opportunities because you can make an impression and understand the industry a lot more.
Another tip is to be yourself. It’s key to put your personality into your application because law firms want a genuine, well-rounded person.
Did your extracurriculars help with your application?
Yes – university is about the experience and the life skills you gain, not just the degree. I was vice president of my university mooting society which was an incredible experience; my best memory of this is when we went to Mumbai to do an international moot modelled on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This was a fascinating topic and I learnt so much through the heavy research involved and by drafting our legal position.
You should also do things out of genuine interest rather than for the sake of applications.
What was the toughest part of the application process, and what was the most enjoyable?
The toughest part was definitely the rejection. A lot of university students, especially those doing law, are often used to most things going their way and don’t have to deal with a lot of rejection until their applications. You’re bound to get lots of rejections and because of this there’s a temptation to procrastinate or give up. In reality, you just need to sit down and apply – almost everybody else is in the same position as you, so don’t take it personally and keep persevering.
The most enjoyable part was researching firms and their particular areas of law because it opened my mind to what’s going on in the commercial legal world. I found out about so many cases I hadn’t even thought of before and enjoyed looking into the firms’ specialisms.
What's the day-to-day life like?
It completely depends on the department; some departments have a higher volume of cases that are smaller in value, others have enormous, high-profile cases. I was on a massive energy case that lasted a long time, and this was the only time there was a consistent day-to-day life. Other times, I would have four or five cases at one time. So, there’s no strict day-to-day and it varies by the case you’re doing.
What do you wish you'd known on your first day?
Probably how the photocopiers work!
To find out more about Clyde & Co and to view their opportunities, click here.