Matt went to university in Plymouth and completed his LPC in Exeter. We caught up with Matt to find out more about how he secured his training contract and his experiences at the Trowers & Hamlins Exeter office.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I was born and raised in Exeter, went to university in Plymouth and did my LPC with my Masters in Exeter.
After I finished my law degree, I went on to become a paralegal at a small local firm called Stones. In 2015, Stones merged with Trowers & Hamlins, so it was from this point I was able to secure a training contract.
What inspired you to apply to Trowers & Hamlins?
Being a paralegal at the firm meant I was able to experience what life was like. One of the things I really loved was its inclusive culture. We have an open plan office here and everyone is really approachable. I’m always able to talk to more senior members of staff and I’ve never been made to feel like a junior. I didn’t apply anywhere else because I didn’t want too!
We always have regular meetings and video conferences with the London office, so this is another aspect I really liked about the firm.
What is a ‘normal’ day like?
I’m very much still finding my feet. I have my own tasks to do and my own files, which I take ownership of. This level of responsibility is great and really motivates me to have my own input.
If I’m ever stuck on my work my supervisor is always happy to discuss any challenges I have and help me out.
In the afternoon, I tend to get away quite quickly, you don’t have to stay late into the evening if you don’t want to. I think some of the worries for students wanting to pursue a legal career are the horror stories you can hear about working hours. In my office, there might be a week-long stretch to get a deal done where you have to stay late, but there’s definitely a work-life balance and team focus here.
Outside of work, there’s lots of extra-curricular activities with colleges and various networking events to get involved with.
What are some of the highlights of your training contract?
For me, being invited to networking events has been one of the biggest highlights. This makes me feel like I’m really a big part of the firm and trusted to talk to some of our biggest clients.
Another highlight was when I was in real estate team. Every year they run a big quiz where lots of their clients and organisations take part. In the final day of my real estate seat, we completed a huge acquisition of a site for millions of pounds. This was really exciting because you’re able to see what you’ve been working so hard towards.
What was the application process like? What was the hardest part? What did you enjoy the most?
I had two interviews for my TC, and I didn’t get it the first time. I think for me, overcoming my nerves was a big challenge and this was something I had to learn to manage in the application process.
The part I enjoyed the most was the second interview. I found it to be more like a conversation than an interview which was really great.
One of my biggest pieces of advice to students going into interview is don’t try to perfect your answers to potential questions. It’s vital you come across personable. Remember, interviewers are people just like you, so make yours interesting and let them remember you.
What is company culture like?
Again, the key theme for me is inclusivity. Internally, in my office I can talk to anyone. Externally, all the regional offices are made to feel included in the firm, even though the London office is the central hub. We do regular video conferences with the London, so we’re all made to feel like we’re one big team split across the country.
The culture Trowers & Hamlins creates is one where it’s extremely easy for you to develop because everyone works to such a high standard.
Finally, any tips for anyone who’d like to apply for a similar role at Trowers & Hamlins?
- Know the opportunities on offer. I know people at university are told you must get a training contract straight away, which is amazing if you do, but if you’re unsuccessful know there are so many other routes you can take. For example, as a paralegal, you’re able to earn a wage and gain key skills which you can then use in your training contract interviews. It really isn’t the end of the world if you aren’t successful the firm time round and helps to build your resilience.
- Be yourself.
- Know the firm inside out. They want to know if you’ve researched the firm and can talk about it in detail. They’re looking for someone who wants to stay here for a long time, so do your research, find out who their clients are and the deals they’ve been involved in.
Want to know more about Trowers & Hamlins? Check out their live opportunities here.