We caught up with Hannah to discuss the insights she gained during her summer vacation scheme at Gowling WLG. Hannah shares how this experience has prepared her for starting the LPC this month and outlines the importance of confidence in a legal career.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I grew up in London before studying Law at the University of Exeter. It was during my time there that I decided I wanted to be a solicitor; specifically, in corporate law. When I finished my degree, I began a paralegal role at a law firm in London, specialising in white-collar crime investigations. Following my offer, I am due to start the LPC this month. Outside law, I enjoy visiting exhibitions, cooking, playing the drums, and often try to squeeze in a few laps of the pool around work.
What stood out to you about Gowling WLG?
Initially, I was drawn to Gowling WLG on the basis of their strong reputation, particularly in Real Estate and Intellectual Property. Their unique international presence was another factor, as much of their work has multijurisdictional aspects.
For me though, it was the culture which made Gowling my first choice. The supportive atmosphere of the firm, which I saw first-hand during the virtual vacation scheme, cemented my decision. I think that this, combined with a small trainee intake with a lot of responsibility, provides the best environment in which to learn.
What is the culture like at the firm and how did you experience this virtually?
Above all, Gowling WLG is an open and friendly firm. This was reflected during several talks and informal meetings during the scheme. We had plenty of contact with people from all levels, from trainees, to partners, to the Chief Executive, David Fennell. They all really took the time to get to know us and answer any questions. Beyond this, we were encouraged to get in contact with anyone at the firm, for a ‘virtual coffee’.
It also has a highly social culture, offering plenty of firm-wide activities. Many of these encourage diversity, for example its OpenHouse network. This social side to Gowling was evident during the scheme, despite its virtual nature, as we had a quiz led by a current trainee, and accompanying hampers sent directly to our homes!
As I have mentioned, the firm is a very supportive one. The Early Talent Team ensured that questions about the Assessment Day were answered and was on-hand to help with any issues throughout. Even during my virtual interview at the end of the week, I was put at ease very quickly and felt able to take my time to answer the questions thoroughly.
What was your favourite aspect of your time during the vacation scheme at Gowling WLG?
I really enjoyed taking part in the group task, as I found that it gave a chance for us all to work together. We had unsupervised time to do so which was really useful, as we were able to get to know each other informally before collaborating, which meant that the group presentation went very smoothly.
I also felt that this task covered a topic which, although unfamiliar to everyone, had aspects which interested different people. This made the research part very enjoyable and time flew by!
What are your top tips to members going through the application process?
Researching, and applying to, the firm that fits what you want from your training contract, and career, is definitely the most important thing. The best way to do this is to spend time getting to know the firms on your shortlist, whether through formal open days (which are very undervalued), or informally, through virtual opportunities, or through people who work there.
This will also help with the interview process as your passion for the firm will be more obvious if you are able to talk about the specifics that attract you. This in turn, appeals to firms, who are looking for enthusiastic, committed trainees.
When writing your application, whatever experience you have, try to pick out tasks which relate to those that you will be doing as a trainee. For example, I worked in a kitchen shop during University holidays. My role included selecting products which fit customers’ requirements. I compared this to the trainee task of exploring options with clients which work best towards their objectives.
What essential piece of advice have you learnt during your virtual vacation scheme at Gowling WLG?
Do not be afraid to ask what you think is a silly question. It is better to ask at first instance than waste valuable time during the task trying to understand it. Often, people think this makes them look like a weak candidate, but I think that the ability to ask about something that seems unclear shows both confidence and self-awareness.