Key insight into a Training Contract with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
After joining Bright Network back in 2010 and studying Law at the University of Cambridge, Eloise is a trainee at a top American Law firm. Currently on secondment in New York, we caught up with one of our original members about her time as a trainee and what she's learnt along the way.
What made you want to go into Commercial Law originally?
As a law student, I knew from early on that I wanted to pursue Law as a career, but I had no idea what kind of lawyer I wanted to be. Initially, I had thought Family Law would be a good fit, but ended up applying for a few Commercial Law vacation schemes out of interest. To my surprise, I loved the Commercial Law lifestyle - it was fast-paced, challenging, and full of inspiring, driven people. I wanted to join them!
Has your Training Contract been what you expected? Has anything surprised you?
I knew it was important to go into the training contract with realistic expectations - corporate lawyers work long hours in demanding situations. In that respect, it has been what I expected - it's definitely not a 9 to 5 job! At the same time, I've been surprised by the amount of responsibility I've been given. From my first day, I found myself immediately integrated into teams where I was made to feel like a highly valued member of the group. The job becomes about supporting your colleagues and working together to produce a solution to a problem. And this kind of perspective makes the late nights and long hours much more rewarding!
Have you enjoyed your time in New York? How different is it to working in London?
New York is a great city - intense, high-energy and full of creativity and diversity. As I work for a US firm, our New York office is much bigger than our London office, which results in a different kind of experience. The teams are larger and tend to be a little more specialised. But the culture of collegiality is definitely still strong - and as an international law firm, we're constantly working across all jurisdictions and time zones, no matter which office you're in!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The challenge. It's amazing to look back at the progress you make over the years when you're constantly learning new things! But the human element is also important to me - at the end of the day, you're working alongside others, and the real reward comes from supporting, assisting and facilitating their work, as well as your own.
What would be your top 3 tips for current students wanting to get into Commercial Law?
1. Understand the industry
Before you think about applying for training contracts or vacation schemes, get to know the legal and commercial landscape. It takes time to learn the fundamentals, but it's crucial for applications and interviews. It shows you care about your future career, and that you have a genuine interest in the work you're applying to do.
2. Get as much experience as possible
Each law firm has a unique and distinctive culture (even if they all look the same from their websites!). Work experience is crucial in figuring out which firm best fits your personality and skill-set. Vacation schemes are an ideal way to get to know a firm - if possible, try doing a few schemes in different types of law firm (magic circle, silver circle, US firm, regional firm...) before picking the one that's right for you.
3. Be genuine about your motivations
It's easy to jump into Commercial Law because it sounds glamorous or because everyone else is applying for it. But there's a reason why interviewers will quiz you about your motivations for getting into Commercial Law... it's an extremely difficult job to do if you don't genuinely find it interesting. At the end of a long day, your passion and motivation are going to be crucial to your continuing career success (and enjoyment of life!) - so make sure it's the right path for you.
Thanks to Eloise for sharing her insights with us.
Looking to follow in Eloise's footsteps? Discover live graduate opportunities with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Training Contract