We caught up with Bright Network member, Camila, a trainee solicitor at Clyde & Co. During her time at LSE studying Law, she also completed their vacation scheme. She chatted to us about what attracted her to Clyde & Co and what she found most tough about their application process. Read her story below…
How’s your experience at Clyde & Co been?
My experience has been amazing! Clyde & Co is such a friendly firm, and I feel comfortable speaking to people of all levels, regardless of their position. Also, each member of the team is appreciated and as a trainee, you are given responsibility from the outset. This means that you learn vital skills quickly, such as project management.
What attracted you to Clyde & Co and the role?
What attracted me most was the niche subject areas; a lot of other firms are more limited in this respect, but I knew that at Clyde & Co I could experience a real variety of subjects. Here I’ve been able to focus very specifically on certain industries that interest me and have gained some specialist knowledge already, whilst also improving my skills generally. My two seats have been in energy and trade departments which I’ve loved because no two cases are the same and the sector is constantly being shaped by outside factors like politics and foreign affairs. Being able to focus your learning like this from such an early stage is a great advantage, but I also know that there is the option to do more general areas of law as well.
I wanted to go into law because it’s such a huge, diverse field that affects every part of society. On top of that, it's always changing and growing, so you are constantly being challenged and pushed to learn new things. I knew that law would satisfy my academic interests whilst also allowing me to do practical work that has an impact. Luckily, the reality of working in law lives up to that expectation, especially working in an international firm like Clyde & Co as I have worked mostly on cases with an international dimension to them.
Do you have any hints and tips on how to make your application stand out?
The best tip I received was that every answer and every part of your application should be specific to each firm - if an answer could apply to another firm, then you’ll look like you haven’t done enough research. You should really cater to the firm that you are applying to, and take every opportunity to show how much you are interested in their work. This means that you really have to take commercial awareness seriously, as I mentioned above, as you have to know what you are talking about!
Did extracurriculars help you prepare for a role in law?
Extracurriculars helped me a lot, not only with the application process but also in terms of adapting to working life. For example, the student jobs and society positions I had at university taught me to handle stressful situations well, to balance priorities and to plan ahead, and I definitely think that these experiences helped me to 'hit the ground running' and not to panic in stressful situations. This also has the added benefit of giving you things to talk about in the application and interview stage, as you can use your real-life experiences to support your answers, and you are more confident in your abilities.
I attended quite a few law careers events while at university as well, which helped me to increase my understanding of the sector and learn from other people's experiences, whether that was trainees who could give me advice on the application process or experienced lawyers who could tell me about their careers and expertise. It also meant that I was more confident when it came to interviewing, especially if I had interacted with individuals from a firm before.
What was the toughest part of the application process, and what was the most enjoyable?
Commercial awareness can be a very imposing and difficult concept to grasp when you've not experienced the corporate world before and you are also trying to balance other commitments such as studying and/or applying to applications. I found it hard to know how to focus my commercial awareness development effectively and balance my application process with my commercial learning and development. However, I found small everyday tasks such as reading the business section in a free daily newspaper or subscribing to free newsletters relating to the commercial world helped make the task of engaging with commercial awareness much more manageable.
The most enjoyable part of the application process was the vacation scheme at Clyde & Co, and surprisingly, my interview. The whole process with the firm was very relaxed and I felt that they genuinely wanted to get to know me rather than intimidate me or trip me up. This meant that I felt comfortable enough to be myself, and despite being very nervous initially I actually enjoyed my interview. This definitely made me even more certain that Clyde & Co was the firm for me.
What’s the day-to-day life like as a trainee solicitor?
Every day here is always different, and I have already been asked to help in a variety of tasks, such as commencing proceedings, drafting a settlement offer, and even going to court at the last minute. In addition, people are always looking for ways to get trainees involved, for example, I have always been invited to attend the hearings of cases that I have worked on. The culture at the firm is also very supportive, so trainees are encouraged to ask questions and to seek out opportunities to learn as much as they can.
What do you wish you’d known on your first day?
I wish I’d been more comfortable asking questions from day one. As a trainee, keeping up with the work is obviously a priority, but it’s also important to learn from other people and gain from their experience. Asking a question that’s not directly related to your task doesn’t reflect badly on you at all – it shows you care about what others are doing in the firm as well as your own work.
To find out more about Clyde & Co and to view their opportunities, click here.