Case study

Trainee solicitor — Jack Davies

Jack studied Law with German at University College London (UCL) before moving on to an MPhil in Economic and Social History at the University of Cambridge. He's now a trainee solicitor with Kirkland & Ellis International LLP

How did you get your job?

I didn't know what I wanted to do as a career while at school or university. While some may consider law a specialist subject, it is far from it. It combines history, philosophy, reasoning, language and considerable opportunities to develop practical skills such as negotiating, debating and mooting.

During my time at UCL (and spending my third year in Munich), I interviewed and had work experience in various professions, including accounting, investment banking and barristers' chambers. After graduating I began a graduate scheme at a global investment bank. Towards the end of the graduate scheme I decided that I wanted to study for a Masters focusing on economic history, a particular interest of mine. I took a year out to do this, which provided some time to reflect on exactly what career I wanted to pursue. I knew I wanted to work on top quality work, while also finding a smaller, more close-knit environment. I wanted to work in teams, but also have significant responsibility and exposure to quality work immediately. Ultimately, I missed aspects of the law and participated in several vacation schemes during this year.

Having conducted some research I was attracted to large US firms with a London office. US firms offer top tier work, significant responsibility for juniors and generally work in smaller teams, thus providing more exposure to senior members of the firm, while guaranteeing that quality work filters down to junior associates and trainees. It was apparent during my vacation scheme at Kirkland & Ellis that the firm fulfilled these criteria in abundance.

In addition, the people at Kirkland & Ellis really made me want to join the firm. The firm genuinely has an inspiring open door policy. Even the most senior partners take significant time and effort to invest in the careers of trainees and junior associates.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The people, the high-quality work and the bespoke development programme. From the first day you get involved in real, quality work. The small deal teams will typically include one trainee, one junior associate, a senior associate and a partner. This guarantees top quality work for trainees, as the junior associate, in particular, will rely heavily on you to assist in document drafting, running calls and deal management, to name some tasks.

What are the challenges?

This focused approach allows you to quickly improve your knowledge and take on more interesting work and responsibility during the training contract. However, this can be very challenging at times. You have to be very organised and willing to learn and take initiative on the spot. You need to balance the understandable desire to work with everyone with the ability to maintain high quality work, and a work/life balance. Throughout your training contract, you are expected to become more independent and act like an associate.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My law degree is more relevant for the broader skills I learned during the course, such as articulating an argument, critical thinking and debating/being an active member of the law society. Most degrees will hone your deductive and writing skills so I don't think my law degree is more relevant than any other degree.

How has your role developed?

Throughout the training contract you take on more responsibility and more challenging tasks. The development and learning is constant. I have developed more confidence to do certain tasks unsupervised where appropriate, I have honed my management and interpersonal skills and I continue to learn how to prioritise my time in the most efficient way.

Another reason I chose Kirkland & Ellis is the fact that the training and development as an associate means it is possible to become a partner relatively early if you prove yourself. I'm not one for ten-year plans but, if I'm not a failing blues guitarist by then, I'd like to think I'd still be here.

How do I get a job with Kirkland & Ellis?

Be yourself. The firm isn't looking for any specific personalities. Instead it seeks creative, driven individuals with a sense of humour and a willingness to have a go. There are people here with incredibly varied personalities, backgrounds and working styles. There is a general collegiality, however, and this is a place where everyone knows everyone else's name.

Further, the small team approach attracts people who want to learn as quickly as possible, and take responsibility to work on some of the world's biggest, most innovative deals.

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