Case study

Kiran Singh Dhoot — Trainee solicitor

Employer
RPC

Kiran studied Law with a year abroad in English (LLB) at the University or Warwick and Utrecht University (Netherlands) before joining RPC

How did you discover the work experience opportunity?

I did some research into the types of firms I was interested in, and RPC came up as particularly prominent in technology and commercial contracts. A number of vacation scheme placements were also advertised on their website.

How did you secure the role?

I applied for the vacation scheme and attended an assessment day during which I completed a number of tasks including a case study analysis and presentation. After this I was offered a place on the vacation scheme which acts as both a chance for you to get to know the firm and a two-week interview process for a training contract. After completing my vacation scheme in RPC's Commercial Disputes (Banking & General) and Property & Casualty (Insurance) teams I was offered a training contract, which I am currently just over halfway through.

Why did RPC appeal to you?

They are a mid-size firm that punches above its weight for the types of instructions it receives. It is instructed on a range of cases and transactions which means that across your seats you can be involved in the big-ticket litigation, such as our Nigeria case which is in the press, to smaller matters where you can really pick up significant responsibility from the outset and develop rapidly.

Tell us about a typical day

On one day during my vacation scheme I was given the chance to read in on a discrete matter for which we had a client meeting that same day. I assisted the trainee on a number of urgent tasks to prepare for the meeting which included preparing a bundle of documents to take the client through. We managed to get ready in time and deliver our advice to the client. After the adrenaline filled morning, I had the chance to attend a training session which covered recent updates to Insurance law in the afternoon. After the meeting I assisted on preparing a research note on the valuation of antique firearms which had been damaged in a fire. After I delivered the note, a senior associate went through points of feedback with me so I knew how best to answer an internal client's query.

What part of your work experience gave you the most satisfaction?

Definitely the rush to prepare for the client meeting. It was great knowing that my tasks directly contributed to an imminent event. It showed me that if a vacation scheme student was trusted to assist with a time critical task, then trainees must also be given a significant amount of responsibility, which further sold me on RPC. I also got a lot of satisfaction from successfully completing a research note on a point of law in international arbitration procedure which turned out to be mostly correct, having done little to no practical legal research prior to that point.

What were the challenges?

I found myself constantly working at the edge of my ability and being stretched in new ways every day. While it is very stimulating, it can be very challenging to maintain the level of concentration, so plenty of mini-breaks are recommended to keep on top of things.

What knowledge and skills did you gain from your work experience that you didn’t have before?

I learned much more about how the law practically applies and is brought to bear in proceedings. At university I learned a lot about tort and contract law, but on the vacation scheme I learned that you need to complete a claim form and particulars of claim to bring a dispute before a court. It also gave me an appreciation of how law firms work on a day-to-day basis which can be a big unknown for someone who has not completed any work experience, or even any office experience.

How has the work experience impacted your development?

The vacation scheme led directly to my training contract which has massively developed my legal skills and put me on track to qualify as a solicitor. The training contract has also developed my resilience and communication skills as my work can be highly pressured at times, which necessitates clear communication and focus to complete tasks to a high standard. The vacation scheme set the bar for what is expected of a trainee during the training contract and was critical in my development.

How important is it to secure work experience?

It is vital as law is a very competitive sector and to stand out you need to have demonstrated your interest. Having interesting work experience beyond vacations schemes can also help and shows that you have more than one string to your bow.

What are your tips for securing work experience?

  • Network at events to show you are interested in a particular firm.
  • Sell your existing work experience in other non-law sectors. There are a whole host of transferrable skills to demonstrate and interesting non-law work experience makes for great talking points in interviews.
  • Be yourself. It’s a cliché but law firms have cultures which, if you join, you will be a part of. It's always best to be open about yourself as you will be able to work out for yourself whether the firm is right for you.

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