Case study

Maria Emberson — Trainee solicitor

Womble Bond Dickinson

Maria is a trainee solicitor at Womble Bond Dickinson. She studied international relations and the graduate diploma in law (GDL) at the University of Plymouth

Why did you decide on a career in law?

I always wanted to study law, however as an international student I was worried about taking the risk of studying law at an English university in case I would end up working in a different jurisdiction.

I chose international relations due to my interest in history and social identity. However, my interest in law did not simmer down over time. I started looking for ways into the profession that did not require a law degree and volunteered at Advice Plymouth during my maternity leave and got a job as a legal coordinator at a national law firm.

What attracted you to the firm?

I came across WBD in 2015 and instantly thought it was the right fit for me due to its commitment to staff development. They were looking for paralegals from different backgrounds and were also supporting the CILEx route. I joined the firm in 2016 as a legal administrator and a year later I was promoted to a paralegal and subsequently to an associate paralegal and interim managing paralegal.

What was the application process like?

In 2018 I decided that I would like to progress further and applied for the GDL. My manager was extremely supportive of my development and I was able to work part-time while studying full-time. I was encouraged to apply for a training contract and remember finding the process very different and engaging. The approach aimed at getting to know us as people rather than applicants.

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

As a trainee I have my own workload consisting of a variety of tasks from legal research to liaising with other parties. Tasks are set by different colleagues but during each seat I have an assigned supervisor with whom I have daily catch ups and can also discuss any questions or concerns.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the opportunity to speak to so many different people and also due to the firm’s expertise I am able to work on very unique and complicated matters that often attract public interest. I also enjoy the social side of work and the opportunities to attend a variety of events.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

The most challenging part is probably learning how to approach and communicate with different types of people and sometimes detaching yourself emotionally from cases.

One of my biggest worries was the myth of long working hours and late nights due to my family commitments. Even though sometimes certain work may require a late finish or a trip away those are an exception and come with a lot of notice to allow people to make necessary arrangements.

The firm also takes a lot of care of everyone’s work life balance.

What are your career ambitions?

My short-term goal is to qualify as a litigator and to find the type of work that I enjoy doing the most and make a career out of it.

Why should future trainees consider applying to the firm?

All future trainees looking for a modern, forward-thinking firm that is keen to utilise modern technologies, takes care of and invests in its people and can offer an equally high quality of work in both London and regions - should definitely consider applying for a training contract at WBD.

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