1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My placement lasted for five days and I spent each day in a different practice area of the firm. In the Property Litigation department I spent time reading legal documents such as a tenancy lease to gain an understanding of how such documents are put together, and I also drafted client letters. In other departments, my tasks were more based around research for example on one day I researched conspiracy to defraud, and on another I researched corporate insolvency, and had to present what I had found out to the trainee solicitor who was supervising me. In terms of responsibilities, some of the things I did were based on previous cases that the departments had dealt with thus my tasks were purely for the purposes of my own learning however in some departments, particularly the Environment and Planning department, I was doing research into things that the trainees needed to know for live cases on which they were working.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I definitely believe that the programme helped me to develop my existing skills of communication, as it allowed me to meet a lot of new people, and because my tasks sometimes involved presenting what I had done to my supervisor. From this I learnt the importance of being concise and accurate with information, particularly in the case of dealing with clients as they do not instruct solicitors to tell them the intricacies of the law, but to tell them the exact information that will help them in their case. In addition, on one of the days of the placement we received a session to develop our understanding of how a commercial law firm operates and what its role is within the business environment. Furthermore, we gained some basic IT training in the use of certain legal software such as WestLaw which helped me carry out my tasks during the placement, and has also given me an awareness of the types of programmes I may be using in the future.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
Before starting the placement, I was unsure of what to expect as I had not previously undertaken work experience in such a professional environment however I really enjoyed it. The Pinsent Mason employees with whom I interacted were all incredibly friendly, and my trainees gave me interesting tasks to carry out from which I felt that I gained a highly valuable insight into a career as a solicitor, furthering my ambition to pursue a career in this field.
4. How valued do you feel by Pinsent Masons?
I felt that I was very much valued in that from the trainee solicitors to the firm partners, everyone I spoke to seemed to be genuinely interested in talking to me and answering any questions I had both about the tasks in hand, and about their work in general.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
In my view, the programme was very well structured as by allowing us to spend a different day in each practice area provided a broader insight into the different types of work that a full service corporate law firm is involved in. The fact that each day, we were assigned a trainee who collected us from a reception area was also good as it meant that whilst we were given a certain degree of responsibility and independence, we were not just left to our own devices, but were supported throughout. I also thought it was well organised in that upon arriving we received an introduction into who the firm is and exactly what they do, and were also given both health and safety, and IT training. It was all very professional and well organised. Also throughout the programme, we were expected to fill out a booklet part of which involved answering questions, thereby prompting us to do research or ask questions of our supervisors. It also left room for us to document the tasks that we had carried out which I think was good for future reference, and it also involved a quiz which added an element of fun.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
The trainee solicitors who provided support each day were very helpful in that they took time to explain the tasks I was to complete, answering any questions to ensure my understanding. I also felt that they were very approachable, for example they left their office doors open for me to go and speak to them with any queries at any time, and where I was struggling to find some information or whatnot, they gave useful guidance but still ensured that my tasks were a challenge.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I was only really in contact with the HR department upon first day arrival however they were very helpful at this time, and ensured I knew how to contact them if I needed anything throughout the week. Most of the support given was provided by the trainee solicitors as discussed above, whom I found to be very supportive.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
This is non-applicable as it was a work experience programme thus their was no salary involved.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
As I was only working in the firm for one week, I did not really participate in any outside opportunities although from talking to the full time employees, it appeared that there was a lot going on such as sporting events, and a corporate social responsibility programme involving helping out in local primary schools. Although on one day, my trainee invited me to 'office drinks' which I thought was really nice as it made me feel involved and valued, and also gave me more of an opportunity to talk to staff about their work with Pinsent Masons.
9. Would you recommend Pinsent Masons to a friend?
I would definitely recommend the programme to anyone interested in a career in law, or even a career in any professional environment. Although I have not undertaken work experience anywhere else other than at a primary school, I would imagine that this programme was far more well structured an interesting than that which is provided by other companies. I felt that I learned a lot from it, and it even helped me decide that I wish to pursue a career as a solicitor. Even if upon completion of the programme I had decided that this is not a job that I would consider in the future, it would have remained an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Pinsent Masons?
In terms of the application process, the main advice I would give is to take time over the application, and to give honest responses based on examples and evidence. The main advice I would give in general is to ask lots of questions, and don't be put off if you find it challenging because that's the point of it; doing work experience in such a large successful firm is a rare experience for a 16-18 year old so it is important to make the most of it, and get as much out of it as you can.
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