1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I shadowed solicitors from various departments at the firm, being set tasks that gave a taste of what a trainee solicitor’s work would consist of in that field of law. This included drafting documents to be used in agreements between companies, and performing research on the legal definition of concepts. Talks on different aspects of work at a commercial firm and routes into a career in law were also given in the morning, plus interactive activities such as a mock tribunal on the final day, which as a team we had to prepare for and allocate different roles.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I wasn’t particularly sure what commercial law entailed before I completed work experience at Pinsent Masons, but the basics of their work (and of the business sector in general) were very well explained to me. The work experience demonstrated to me the law’s role in banking and finance, business operations, employment and construction, all areas I had little to no interest or knowledge in previously, but am now interested in learning further about.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
What pleasantly surprised me the most about the firm was the culture- I expected a corporate firm to be sterile and uninviting, the opposite can be said about Pinsent Masons. While the work still looks intense, it’s well balanced with a genuinely friendly atmosphere, and though I was only a student there for a week, I never felt afraid or awkward when approaching someone with a question. Being supervised by different solicitors throughout the firm, I was given a good level of support and a decent amount of work to do- plus, each supervisor then followed up with constructive feedback on the task I performed, which was definitely helpful.
4. How valued do you feel by Pinsent Masons?
I was only on work experience for a week, but I definitely felt like my time there was appreciated. Every supervisor I had put in effort to give me feedback on tasks they set me, and when I wasn’t sure about certain parts of the work assigned, they were more than happy to explain the concepts. In addition, they provided support with my personal statement, and answered any questions I had on working at the firm or a career in law. Similar advice was given in talks by some of the trainee solicitors- this was especially well organised and provided practical information on a multitude of areas of law and aspects of working in the legal profession.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The work experience at Pinsent Masons was extremely well organised- in fact, everyone on my group noticed this. The morning talks from trainee solicitors were always well planned and engaging, and it was clear effort was made to inform us on what life is like working for Pinsent Masons. Work was always assigned, as well- we were always given something of substance to do and it was clear that this had been arranged previously. Seat plans and information packs were given out at the start of the week, arranging exposure to multiple departments, and a running project was given to us to prepare for throughout and complete for the last day.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
The team at Pinsent Masons were very supportive, ensuring that, although the work experience group was only there for a week, we knew our way around all the departments, and felt welcome in the office. Feedback was consistently given on our performance on assigned tasks, and wherever possible, our supervisors made sure we properly understood the often complex legal terminology included in documents so we could gain actual professional knowledge from the course. Additional support was given in the form of advice offered on personal statements, plus answering general questions on the industry, careers in law, and their experience at law school.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
The HR team at Pinsent Masons was extremely supportive. On the first morning, we received a formal welcome from HR, outlining the company’s values so we knew what kind of environment we would be working in for the week. We also got a tour of the office and were introduced to each department. The HR team consistently kept us updated with training we had to complete, and made sure we knew we could contact them with any issue we might have during the work experience.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
One of the downsides of the work experience was the expensive costs of commuting to and from the firm each day. Trains can be particularly expensive into the city of the office I completed work experience at, and unfortunately, there is no support for this. There is, however, support for lunch costs on the first day, a voucher given for the staff canteen, and reasonably priced food in that canteen from there on. This provided an affordable alternative to the often expensive food in cafes in the surrounding area.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
The firm is well placed, giving lots of opportunity for other activities after the programme, and ensuring that we didn’t feel isolated to just the work environment. This includes local restaurants, museums, etc. We could leave the firm for lunch, during which there was a lot of choice for where to go, as well as a busy and interesting area to walk around while not working. Overall, the environment outside of the firm during the placement days were definitely interesting.
9. Would you recommend Pinsent Masons to a friend?
Pinsent Masons gave me an insight into an area of law I hadn’t looked into during my research in preparation for a law degree. I was somewhat nervous about the nature of work experience at a commercial firm, having little knowledge of that practice area and lots of preconceptions about what life would be like working there. Pinsent Masons was instantly an inviting and unintimidating environment, in which I discovered so much more about a career in law and by the end, felt encouraged to pursue my own aspirations. I would strongly advise anyone thinking about a legal career to apply to the scheme, as it is a wonderful and accessible opportunity to gain practical knowledge about the field.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Pinsent Masons?
The application process includes questions on your skills and suitability to a career as a commercial solicitor. Be honest about your interest in law- I had no knowledge of commercial law but was able to convey my interest in law through my prior reading on criminal and human rights law, and, crucially, my enthusiasm to learn more about the commercial field that Pinsent Masons operates in. Do research on the firm and their practice areas, perhaps highlight a specific area of expertise that interests you and why. Link all your current activities to applicable skills such as teamwork, research and self management.
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