Case study

Katie Lobley — Trainee solicitor

Taylor Wessing

Katie studied for a degree in English at the University of Exeter. She now works as a trainee solicitor at Taylor Wessing

Why did you choose Taylor Wessing?

I was initially drawn to the firm due to its unique blend of practice areas. As a non-law student, I didn't know which areas of law I would enjoy but I was interested in both intellectual property and private client. As Taylor Wessing ranks very highly in both these areas, it was a natural fit for me. It also has a range of clients and works a lot with tech start-ups, as well as established global companies, which means the work is varied and interesting.

On top of this, the firm has a fantastic culture. Generally, partners and associates are friendly and approachable, and from my first interview I felt that people genuinely want you to do well. The hours are good in comparison to other firms - particularly in non-corporate seats, late nights are rare and when you do need to stay late fee-earners let you know that it is appreciated.

Taylor Wessing is known for its focus on tech, and encourages applications from graduates with a science background. However, there are a lot more 'traditional' practice areas and in my intake there are lots of trainees with humanities and language degrees - there is no one size fits all approach.

What was the application process like?

Taylor Wessing only recruits from their vacation scheme. The process starts with an application form, followed by an online game-based assessment. The next step is the assessment centre, which includes a group exercise and partner interview (including a commercial awareness exercise).

I found the interview really enjoyable - it was more of a discussion than a formal interview and involved questions on my extra-curricular activities, as well as on commercial awareness.

The vacation scheme normally lasts two weeks (although the virtual scheme was only one week due to Covid-19), during which you sit in two different practice areas. The scheme enabled me to speak to a variety of people, and I felt that it gave me a good insight into life as a trainee and confirmed that Taylor Wessing was the right firm for me.

What does your training contract involve?

During the two-year training contract, we do four seats of six months' each, one of which must be corporate and another contentious. So far, I have done employment and private client, and am now sitting in tax.

As a trainee, your activities and responsibilities vary depending on your department. However, typically you can expect to be involved in drafting documents, researching legal points, corresponding with clients and third parties, and taking attendance notes of meetings and calls. Having said this, one of the great things about my role is that every day is different. For example, during my private client seat I was asked to research the requirements for bringing pets to the UK and to attend a client's flat to supervise building works.

As well as a two-week general induction when you join the firm, in the first month of each seat you are given department-specific formal training. In addition, each department has weekly know-how sessions, where the team meet to discuss recent legal developments and case law updates.

What have been the highlights so far?

A highlight for me has been the feeling of progression in each seat. Initially, you are closely supervised by fee-earners but I have found that, as I have grown more confident, I have been given more responsibility. By the end of each six months I am drafting documents and corresponding directly with clients with less direct supervision from associates and partners. It is great to look back and see how far you have come.

What about the challenges?

Initially I found it hard to adapt to working life after so long as a student. It was strange to go from being confident that I knew what I was doing at university to not even knowing how the printers worked as a trainee. Thankfully, the graduate recruitment team are very supportive and are always around for a chat. Due to the relatively small trainee intake, we are all very close and can speak to each other if we are struggling. Taylor Wessing is also very proactive about mental health issues, and we all have free membership to the mindfulness app, Headspace.

Overall, I have really enjoyed my first year at Taylor Wessing. The work is varied and interesting and the culture collaborative and friendly, which combine to make it a great place to work.

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