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Experiences of a trainee | Emily's Story

Book open Reading time: 4 mins

We caught up with Emily, a real estate associate at Macfarlanes to hear about her experiences with the firm so far. She tells us about her career journey, from starting with the firm on a vacation scheme to securing a training contract to now becoming qualified.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career background?

I graduated in 2018 with a degree in Law from the University of Exeter, I loved studying this subject because it combined all the things I’m really interested in.

Since being at university, the legal career path I thought I wanted has changed. Initially, when I first went to university, I was passionate about becoming a barrister but after attending open days and gaining more insight into what life as a solicitor was like, I realised that particular avenue better suited what I wanted from a career.

What stood out to you about Macfarlanes when applying for opportunities?

For me, it is the two-way relationship that I’ve had with the firm since my first contact with them. After completing their first-year insight scheme, I attended a dinner at my university where they were present, and a member of the graduate recruitment team had remembered me from my time with the firm. This stood out to me because it showed how invested they were in interacting with a small pool of talent and how they really made an effort to get to know you.

Their insight scheme was a fantastic 1:1 opportunity to engage with the graduate recruitment team, work shadow senior colleagues and interact with current trainees, this was a much more personal experience than I had with other firms.

I then spent time on their vacation scheme where I had another really positive experience. Everyone I met was so friendly and made me feel supported throughout. I still see people who I met whilst on the scheme and it’s great to think how my journey to becoming qualified at Macfarlanes has progressed.

How did you find the application process for Macfarlanes?

My experience was that, at the end of my vacation scheme, I applied directly for the training contract. I had to complete a series of assessments including an interview, a written exercise, a scenario-based task and a group negotiation.

The team at Macfarlanes made the process as stress-free as possible and I came out of interviews and tasks feeling really positive. It was clear that the team wanted to get the best out of you and were truly interested in seeing you be yourself. On top of this, it was a great two-way process where they allowed me the space to get to know the firm and decide if it was the right place for me.

How has the firm’s training programme supported your development?

Macfarlanes is industry-renowned for its training and development opportunities. I experienced this first-hand throughout my training contract and they ensured that, despite remote working, the engaging sessions continued which helped my professional growth even during the pandemic.

The opportunities are not limited to trainees; after you qualify, you have access to development opportunities, with each practice area having their own stepped training programme focused on your career progression. What’s also great at Macfarlanes is we have the freedom to discuss openly the training programme offering within our team and have conversations on the opportunities we think we would benefit from.  

Since qualifying in 2021, what have your experiences been like?

Thinking about my first seat compared to where I am now, it’s been an interesting journey. Since qualifying into real estate, I’ve overcome new challenges and learnt a lot through being exposed to a diverse range of work. It was a great step-up from the training contract and although it’s been a big learning curve, I think the scope of experiences I gained during my training has really supported my career development in the last six months since qualification.

As with progression in any career, there has been more responsibility which naturally meant I had to do a lot of learning whilst doing, but I have always felt supported by the team and being able to work alongside the best in the business is a fantastic opportunity whilst I’m at the early stages of my career.

I felt the transition from my training contract to being qualified was much smoother because of the tight-knit nature of the team. Plus, being back in the office more has made it easier to form stronger working relationships alongside having the flexibility to work from home.

How would you describe the culture at Macfarlanes?

It’s a close-knit workplace with a welcoming community feel. The culture at Macfarlanes is unique and you experience lots of face-to-face interactions with colleagues. This friendly culture is evident when I reach out to people in other teams, everyone is very happy to help and spare their time to help you, even when they’re already busy. Alongside this, there’s no kind of social hierarchy which means you can interact with people from all levels of the business, making it a great place to work.

What piece of advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying to Macfarlanes?

The best thing you can do is be yourself. Be true to who you are in your applications and bring your unique personality to the table. At Macfarlanes, there’s no one ‘type’ of trainee and no two people are the same. My real experience was that everyone wanted to see you bring yourself, your individual background, your personality and your experiences to the table. This openness also ensures we are working at a firm that suits my personality and I can truly be authentically myself at work, making my work life much happier.

Get to know Macfarlanes better by checking out their profile here.