Case study

Clare Parkin — Trainee Solicitor:

Womble Bond Dickinson

Clare studied for an LLB and Masters of Law, specialising in intellectual property law, at the University of Exeter. She’s now a trainee solicitor at Womble Bond Dickinson

How did you get your job?

Despite studying law at university, I took a slightly convoluted route to securing a training contract.

My long-term goal was always to become a solicitor but immediately after university, I wanted to go into the army and went through the year long application process. When that didn't work out I then qualified and worked as a personal trainer. While I enjoyed this role it wasn't the career for me, so I decided to commit to a career in law.

I lacked experience so secured a job as a corporate and commercial paralegal at another firm in Bristol while applying for training contracts. I was lucky enough to then receive an offer from Womble Bond Dickinson.

What’s a typical day like as a trainee solicitor?

As a trainee in the planning and infrastructure team I am involved in a breadth of work - it is a pretty broad practice area and not as niche as people might think. As a leading planning practice the firm advises on large complex infrastructure projects.

Typical trainee tasks include attending client calls, carrying out research tasks and drafting documents. I am also involved with the drafting and negotiation of self-contained planning agreements and have enjoyed taking the lead on these and seeing matters through to completion.

What do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy the opportunity to work on local tangible projects that will ultimately be of benefit to the local community.

What are the challenges?

Starting a new job in a pandemic and working remotely has had its challenges. While learning by osmosis has not been possible, informal learning has been replicated through lunchtime training sessions, sitting in on client calls and screen sharing when reviewing work. The firm has also been really supportive and provided us with tips and webinars so we can get the most out of working from home.

In what way is your degree relevant?

From a knowledge standpoint a law degree is not overly advantageous, as the ability to critically analyse the law won't help in practice. It did however help me to develop the skills required as a trainee solicitor, such as organisation, attention to detail and written communication.

What are your career ambitions?

As I am only coming to the end of my first seat my short-term goal is very much qualifying into an area of law that I enjoy. It will be interesting to see how the role of a trainee might develop in the future given the impact of technological advances.

How do I become a solicitor?

Apply for open days and vacation schemes these are a really good way to establish whether a firm might be the right fit for you.

  • Don't give up your hobbies. Applicants usually have similar grades and accomplishments so use your interests to show what sets you apart from others and to showcase your personality.
  • Gain experience, although this isn’t necessarily easy to come by it will help you to better understand how a law firm works in practice.

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