Case study

Aaron Stalley — Trainee solicitor

Travers Smith

Aaron works as a trainee solicitor with Travers Smith. Discover what advice he has for aspiring lawyers


How did you become a trainee solicitor?

My career choice was informed through a combination of academic study and vocational work placements. Initially, I found A-level law enjoyable and sought out informal work experience at a number of local firms to test whether I could reconcile an academic interest in the law with the reality of practising it. Fortunately, I found working in a law firm to be immensely interesting and decided to pursue a career as a solicitor.

In light of the above, I enrolled on a law degree at Newcastle University and was subsequently offered a job at Travers Smith a London-based, full-service commercial law firm during my final year of study. I now work as a trainee solicitor.

What is a typical day like as a trainee solicitor?

At the risk of sounding clichéd, there is no such thing as a typical day. While it would be accurate to say that my days consist of legal research, drafting documentation and communicating with clients, the focus, content and context of the aforementioned tasks differ immensely depending on a number of variables, for example, whether the matter is contentious or transactional.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The people and the responsibility.

I am fortunate to work in an office with like-minded people who are some of my closest friends. Travers Smith prides itself on being a collegiate firm, and that is felt throughout my daily interactions, whether it be with a partner or a paralegal.

In terms of responsibility, while sometimes daunting, it is both exciting and complimentary that I am tasked with extremely important jobs. To this end, I feel I am reaping the rewards of countless hours of study and practice.

What are the challenges?

Matter management is a very challenging part of my job. At any given time there will be numerous moving parts of a transaction or case (such as drafts of contracts being exchanged, filings at companies house or information requests from regulators) and it is often the role of a trainee to keep on top of this constant flow of documentation to ensure that, when the appropriate time arrives, the final or most recent version of a given document can be retrieved and analysed.

How do I become a trainee solicitor?

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this question. However, the following advice is a good place to start:

  • Try it first - whether through a vacation scheme, volunteering or an informal placement.
  • Know why - ensure you know exactly why you want to work as a solicitor. You will almost certainly be asked this in any interview and a poor answer will immediately cast doubt in the interviewer's mind.
  • Be persistent - don't be disheartened by rejection. I do not know a single person who wasn't rejected from a vacation scheme or training contract.

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