Case study

Joseph Fox-Davies — Trainee solicitor

White & Case

Joseph studied Politics at the University of Warwick and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He now works as a trainee solicitor at White & Case

How did you get your job?

I was offered a training contract after I took part in White & Case's vacation scheme while studying for the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). I then completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC) before starting at the firm in March 2020. There is no better insight into life at a City law firm, its culture and the nature of its work than a vacation scheme.

What’s a typical day like as a trainee?

It typically starts by catching up on emails from colleagues or clients in other time zones, as well as a scan of the financial and legal press to keep up to date with the commercial landscape.

In a contentious seat, the day's ebb and flow will be dictated by the current stage of a dispute and the proximity of a deadline.

In recent weeks, I have attended a trial in one case and assisted in the filing of witness evidence in another.

What do you enjoy about your job?

As someone drawn to contentious work, one of the best parts of this job is attending court. Trials and hearings are usually the culmination of a period of intense work and an opportunity to see a case on its feet.

It’s also a pleasure to work with so many highly intelligent and generous colleagues who take a keen interest in your training and from whom there is always a lot to learn.

What are the challenges?

Working on a number of different matters at any one time can sometimes feel as though you are being pulled in different directions. Managing these competing demands on your time will become instinctive, but it can be challenging at times.

In what way is your degree relevant?

The research and analytical skills you develop in a social sciences degree lend themselves particularly well to the study and practice of law. Studying political phenomena and the workings of government also makes you appreciate the macro political and economic risks facing clients, such as shifts in regulatory policy and political unrest.

How has your role developed?

After almost six months in my current seat, I have a more active role within my team, which brings with it a larger portfolio of responsibilities. I look forward to continuing to cut my teeth on challenging cases and developing my legal skills in order to become a trusted advisor to clients in the long term.

How do I get into law?

  • You’ll create opportunities for yourself if you take the initiative in developing your interest in law. Attending law firm career events is an excellent start, but there is plenty more you can do through volunteering and obtaining further work experience.
  • It is easy to feel the pressure to secure a training contract by the end of your degree, but remember it is not a race and many people come to the law having spent some time doing something else beforehand. The experience you gain in other lines of work or as a paralegal will stand you in good stead upon starting a training contract.
  • Do not be deterred if you don’t initially secure a place on a vacation scheme or training contract. The persistence and tenacity you show at this stage will benefit you in the long run.

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