Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
My name is Gaspard du Chaffaut. With my family being French, I started my education in the French system but then moved to an English school in year 9 for my GCSEs. I went on to study Law at Durham University; I enjoyed the challenge a law degree seemed to represent and the variety that came with it.
At university, I had a number of different commitments. I particularly enjoyed my time in the Schools Outreach project, which involved me organising talks at neighbouring state schools about law and UCAS advice. I also took part in the squash and ping-pong teams, and set up my college’s law society.
What inspired you to apply for this role with Goodwin?
Goodwin first captured my attention because of its excellent life sciences practice. My A Level in biology certainly developed my interest in biotechnology, especially cell biology. The opportunity to work for these companies at the forefront of biotechnology, from Series A funding rounds to IPOs, certainly drew me to the firm.
Importantly also, Goodwin is experiencing very exciting growth in London. Joining as a trainee, onto a training program which has already received awards, provides me with an invaluable opportunity to become a leading solicitor and work on industry shaping deals.
Finally, the application process with Goodwin was an enjoyable one. The partners who interviewed me for the summer vacation scheme were especially friendly, and asked meaningful, challenging and interesting questions. I particularly enjoyed the summer vacation scheme, which despite virtual conditions, was tailored to give me a real impression of the firm and enabled me to get involved with the deals my department was working on. This made me all the more eager to pursue a career at Goodwin.
What excites you most about becoming a Trainee?
I am especially excited about being able to learn about and interact with innovative and industry disrupting businesses. Working on these important transactions, within Goodwin’s lean teams where I can take responsibility, is a challenge I am looking forward to.
What do you find most interesting with the sector?
I was driven to pursue a career in law because of the multi-disciplinary aspect of commercial law, which requires an accurate and specific grasp of the relevant legal framework but also a consideration of broader market trends and our client’s industry position and aspirations.
Additionally, the pandemic precipitated the convergence of industries with technology and life sciences. Joining Goodwin, which is excellently well placed to capitalise on this convergence is extremely exciting. It gives me the opportunity to interact and work with businesses at the forefront of innovation and industry disruption.
What has your experience of the culture been so far?
I have found Goodwin to be a firm which prizes initiative and taking responsibility. During the virtual vacation scheme, considerable ‘time in department’ was given. This enabled vac schemers to interact with as many Goodwin lawyers as possible, from paralegal to partner, and get a real taster for work at the firm.
Goodwin is also a particularly ambitious firm. It is united under a firm-wide mission to become leaders within its five key industries, and be at the forefront of innovation and intersection between these industries, such as proptech. This gives a lot of momentum to the firm and its lawyers.
Finally, Goodwin has a massive people-focus. Over our vacation scheme, it was repeated to us numerous times that we should try speak to as many people as possible, and lawyers of all seniority were especially friendly and forthcoming when asked for a conversation. This has also been the case post-training contract offer, as future trainees were invited to the firm’s summer party. I was also invited to play with the firm in a charity mixed-tag rugby tournament. These frequent social interactions show how lawyers are intent on having genuine and meaningful relations at the firm.
How important is diversity to you and what is Goodwin doing in this space at the moment?
Having been to both a French and Comprehensive State school, and been surrounded by people of different backgrounds at university, I realise the massive strength which comes from a having a diverse group of people around me because of the breadth of opinion it can provide.
As Rob Insolia (Goodwin Chairman) described it, Goodwin does not treat diversity as a checkbox they have to fill but as a defining characteristic of the firm and one of its great strengths. In this way, the firm not only considers diversity, but also focuses on Inclusion. This is embodied in the firm’s target that by 2025, Goodwin’s senior associate and partner population will match or exceed the entry-level associate diversity, which is of 50% gender diverse, 35% racioethnically diverse, and 10% LGBTQ+ diverse.
Finally, any tips for anyone who’d like to apply for a role at Goodwin?
Reach out to people at the firm. In my experience, people at Goodwin are always eager to offer up their time to speak about the firm or their practice. Whilst I didn’t muster up the courage to ask, I know that even the Chairman of the firm Rob Insolia, who resides in the US, had phone calls with 4-5 vac schemers last summer! So try your hardest to contact people at the firm, and ask about the firm’s Industry division, or what it’s doing in the proptech/propsci space for example.
Be interested! As I mentioned, the firm rewards initiative and drive, and lawyers tend to become specialists in their respective industries. If you are able to show a real interest in one of the five industries Goodwin specialises in, and have opinions on where this industry is going, this will certainly shine through.