We caught up with Natalie, a recent trainee at Burges Salmon, to hear her initial thoughts on the firm and what her experience has been like so far. Find out more and learn from her journey to securing a Training Contract and how she knew Burges Salmon was the right fit for her.
Tell me a bit about yourself
I grew up in Ipswich and went to university in London where I studied for my Law degree. During this period I was applying for training contracts and not really getting anywhere. I didn’t know where I was going wrong so I thought it would be best to try and get some more experience. I worked as a paralegal for a US Law firm for about three years which was really good experience. However, the firm didn’t offer training contracts, so the search continued!
I then applied for a training contract with Burges Salmon and, as corny as it sounds, I think it was worth the wait to find the right firm. After applying, I attended the assessment centre and interview, and got my TC offer! I then did my LPC, which Burges Salmon funded, and have now started in my first training seat.
What inspired you to pursue a career in Law?
Being a lawyer was very much something that was advocated by my family. From a young age I had a very strong sense of right and wrong, and my family supported that mentality with comments like “oh you’re really good at arguing, you should be a lawyer”. I think that because I’d been told that for so long, I started to think about what it would be like to be a lawyer and that really intrigued me.
Then, after having worked in the industry for around three years, I developed a real admiration for lawyers and saw how respected they were, as well as how varied their working day was. Lawyers work with clients at some of the hardest points in their professional and personal lives. These clients look to lawyers for the answers and for support which makes the job so exciting and important.
What would a normal day for you look like?
It’s really varied; my first seat is in corporate tax and the team gets a lot of work from different areas of the firm. This department mainly looks at corporate deals and the team considers the tax implication – this means it can be quite fast paced.
One thing about working at Burges Salmon is that you’re not limited to the work you do with your team. The firm fosters collaboration, which means you get to help in different areas and that’s really good. As a trainee I also have frequent catch-ups with people across the firm to make sure I’m doing okay, which has been especially important during the pandemic and whilst working from home.
What aspects of the legal industry are the most interesting to you?
I would say, for me, (and it’s part of the reason I’m at Burges Salmon) it’s energy and environment. Burges Salmon is an industry expert in these areas and because there are a lot of new developments with renewables, it’s a really exciting sector. It’s also really interesting to see these projects from inception to the end. It’s a sector that I’m passionate about too, as it’s clear that the way we’ve been living is not environmentally sustainable and things need to change.
What’s the company culture like?
I’m sure I’ll learn more about it the longer I’m here, but it was clear from the assessment centre that everyone at the firm has a genuine interest in you as a person. Obviously, the work we do is complex, but the firm really understands that it’s the people who run the business. They take a real interest in your well-being and development. If you were to express an interest in a particular area of the firm and reach out to someone about it, they would take you through it and answer any questions you had. Unlike other firms, Burges Salmon’s open-door policy is absolutely implemented, and they want you to get involved in any way you can.
How important is diversity at the firm?
My interview was about two years ago now, and one of the things that attracted me to Burges Salmon was that diversity and inclusion is such an important focus for the firm; it has set out to make sure it fosters a more diverse workplace for the benefit of the industry as a whole.
One thing that stuck out to me is that they have four internal, employee-led diversity networks: one focused on BAME inclusion, a disability forum, another to improve and raise awareness of gender balance, and a network for the LGBTQ+ community too. The firm also encourages all its people from different areas of the business to get involved in its networking groups. This is really important as it encourages you to improve your understanding and learn from the networks. These groups feed in to how the firm can manage and help improve inclusion. I definitely think we are seeing a more diverse firm and will continue to see a more diverse Burges Salmon in the next few years.
Do you have any tips for future applicants?
For Burges Salmon in particular, I didn’t realise quite how many applications the firm gets every year – I think it’s about 1000 – and they read every single one. So I would say, with that many applications and so few positions, you really need to research the firm and if you have the slightest doubt about whether the firm is a good fit for you, this will come across during the application process.
I think you also need to put your personality into your application - in a sensible way of course! As Burges Salmon buys into you as a person, it’s really important you show them who you are. Having applied for many training contracts before, it’s definitely not a numbers game. Tailor your applications and look at what they’re actually interested in because you will get asked why you want to be at that firm, and they’ll see through a vague answer.