Case study

Rebecca Hickman — Trainee solicitor

Slaughter and May

Rebecca studied History of the University of Warwick and completed a Masters in Early Modern History at the University of Cambridge. She then went on to study the GDL and LPC before starting her training contract at Slaughter and May

Why did you choose to train with Slaughter and May?

Initially I had planned to train as a barrister but after undertaking a work placement at a county court I decided that while I still wanted to pursue a legal career I wanted to train as a solicitor instead. I was interested in understanding different businesses and industries and how they worked.

During my undergraduate degree, I went along to a number of career events where representatives from a range of law firms attended. I remember being struck by how open, friendly and enthusiastic the Slaughter and May representatives were and feeling that Slaughter and May was the place for me.

What was the application process like?

I applied a number of times for the firm’s work experience scheme during my undergraduate degree and was unsuccessful. Following graduation I took a year out and gained some work experience in different organisations in different parts of the world and decided that I would apply again during my postgraduate studies.

I applied to the Winter Workshop and was successful and spent a couple of days in the firm attending a number of sessions and talks hosted by various Slaughter and May teams. The Winter Workshop is shorter than the other work experience schemes and it was a whirlwind introduction to what life at the firm is like.

I then applied directly for the training contract and was invited for an interview. The partners asked some questions that were based on my CV and cover letter and then more challenging questions aimed to draw out my opinions on various issues. They are really interested in what you think and your thought process.

What is life like as a trainee at Slaughter and May?

As a result of the pandemic life as a trainee has been quite different for my cohort - we started our training contract virtually and I spent the first nine months working completely from home.

I almost always start my day by checking over my emails and running through my to-do list. Somewhat inevitably, my to-do list changes in the course of the day as priorities change. You can spend some days coordinating documents for signatures and preparing board packs and others doing a deep dive into really technical areas of law, drafting internal guidelines for clients or amending transaction documents.

Even though the pandemic has impacted so many of the usual training contract experiences, I have been able to spend the past three months on secondment to Brussels. The Brussels office has been open throughout the pandemic and it has been a welcome change to work in the office with people and to have a more ‘normal’ training contract experience.

Everyone at the firm is also encouraged to get involved with trainee recruitment events - this can include talking to training contract candidates after their partner interview, talking at panel or networking events, or attending virtual social events. I always enjoy talking to candidates or prospective applicants and sharing my journey to Slaughter and May - it sometimes surprises people that the route to a training contract is not always the most linear one.

My first year as a trainee has gone by so quickly and I have had the opportunity to work on a number of high profile transactions, engage with clients, and to pursue matters and legal issues that I find interesting.

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