Case study

Trainee solicitor — Abigail Pidgen

After studying for an incorporated Masters in Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford, Abigail applied for a place on a vacation scheme and secured herself a training contract. Find out how

How did you get your job?

I initially applied for a vacation scheme. After an assessment day involving an interview, group activities and written exercises, I was lucky enough to secure a place on one, and the firm, Kirkland & Ellis, offered me a training contract at the end of the two-week scheme.

What's a typical day like as a trainee solicitor?

You rotate between four different departments over your two-year traineeship, so your tasks vary greatly. I can do anything from drafting and reviewing documents to carrying out legal research, and liaising with clients and other lawyers to coordinate work streams within a deal or to progress documents.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the constant interaction with colleagues, clients and lawyers from other firms. I enjoy being challenged, gaining confidence and learning quickly.

What are the challenges?

Balancing your workload. As a trainee you are often working with lots of different partners and associates on a number of matters. You have to learn how to prioritise tasks and talk to people so that they are aware of how busy you are on other deals.

In what way is your degree relevant?

As I did a degree in earth sciences, the content of my degree is not directly relevant. It just goes to show that you don't have to do a law degree to get into a career in law.

How has your role developed?

I am now sitting in my second of four departments, which I will rotate through during my training contract. I am being given more responsibility every day and I am enjoying comparing how different departments in the firm work. My main ambition is to complete my training contract and qualify into a practice area that I enjoy.

How do I get into a career in law?

  • Meet and talk to as many people as possible. This is how you'll work out what firms you should be applying to and what you should be putting in your application.
  • Spend time doing a few applications well, rather than sending off as many as you can. Many applications have similar questions that are subtly different. Recruiters can tell when you have just cut and paste the same answer into every application.
  • Taking part in vacation schemes is a great way to start your career as a trainee solicitor. You get a real insight into what life at a firm will be like and the respective firms are able to work with you over a two or three week period. You can get a real sense of whether you would be a good fit.

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