We caught up with Ella, Trainee at RPC to gain some key insights into what makes this firm stand out.
Could you tell us a bit about your background and what inspired you to work at RPC?
I studied law at the University of Sussex and graduated with no solid idea of what kind of law I wanted to get into. I did a vacation scheme at a different firm, spent 3 months as a paralegal at a city firm and 6 months at a start-up providing online legal services to small businesses, as well as working in hospitality. When it came to applications a year later, I had a better picture of the kind of training contract I was interested in. I was drawn to mid-size, full service city firms and focussed my attention on those who championed client service and individuality, as I felt this fitted well with the experience I had. One of these firms was RPC, and when I visited for an assessment day I was impressed by how welcoming everybody was and the interesting conversations I had with lawyers of all different levels during the day.
Why do you think a graduate should choose to start their career at RPC and what sets the firm apart?
The quality of the training at RPC makes it a great place to start off – people put a lot of time into ensuring trainees feel supported. We have two supervisors, one associate and one partner, who oversee progress reviews every 3 months and are always on hand to help with any issues or questions. We're also matched with a mentor and have the choice to request a lawyer from a particular team in the firm.
Aside from training, RPC has an impressive client list and an excellent reputation across multiple departments. Our traditional notoriety as a big player in insurance law is matched by top level litigation work elsewhere as well as non-contentious work for various household names. The firm's focus on client service (and the awards which back this up) means that our client relationships are longstanding and lawyers are often viewed as an extension of the client's own business.
What is your favorite thing you have done while working there?
I'm currently sitting in Corporate and have recently worked on a financing deal for a company which has developed blockchain technology with a view to launching a cryptocurrency. Getting acquainted with such a dynamic new area of technology and law was exciting and I was given a huge amount of responsibility to prepare the suite of ancillary documents for the deal and to attend meetings with the client by myself. Completing on the investment (my first completion!) and receiving the money for the client was a great moment.
How would you describe the RPC company culture?
The RPC culture is very relaxed – our open plan offices mean it's never too daunting to approach anyone and there's a greater sense of community within each team. RPC prides itself on its client service and so lawyers at the firm are always friendly and tend to have interests outside of work which makes it easy to get on with people as friends, rather than colleagues.
What three top tips would you give applicants to the Summer Scheme or Training Contracts?
- It's great if you have an excellent academic record and legal work experience but RPC likes to see that applicants have other interests and experience, which provide soft skills over and above other equally intelligent candidates. Hospitality experience or a role on a sports team, for example, can be just as relevant as the legal background you provide.
- Do your research on the firm and choose a couple things about RPC which you are enthusiastic about. In applications and interviews you should highlight these and be prepared to explain why they appeal to you.
- Try to come up with at least one past experience you can use to evidence each different competency you might be asked about. For example, you should be prepared to talk about instances when you displayed problem-solving abilities, teamwork and good communication skills.
What can students do while at university to make sure they’re a stand out applicant?
Gaining legal work experience is a really invaluable addition to an application, even if it's just a few days or at a high street firm. If you're not able to do this, most law firms will run a number of open days and workshops which will provide a great opportunity to network and give some substance to your application or interview. If all else fails, get involved with clubs and societies at university which will help to develop non-academic skills.
What is the most important thing to do in your first week at RPC?
Introduce yourself to as many people as possible, including non-lawyers, and let them know you're keen to help out. And don't panic!
Keen to find out more about RPC and browse their roles? Go to their profile here.