1. Please give an overview of what your work experience involved:
Every morning we would have an activity which ranged from lectures (e.g. entry to law or commercial litigation) to 'games' (e.g. mock employment tribunal or commercial advice simulation). In the afternoon, we worked individually with our supervising trainees on various tasks depending on which department we were in.
2. What training and skills development did you learn from your work experience?
As well as basic legal terms and concepts, I learned how to present a case before a panel and about the role of law in commerce. I also developed skills that are useful in any career like the ability to absorb and synthesise information efficiently and to communicate in a professional manner.
3. To what extent did you enjoy your work experience?
I thoroughly enjoyed my work experience at Pinsent Masons. The work provided was of a sufficiently high level that I was always interested and stimulated (which is more than I can say for other legal work experience programmes). What is more, I always felt that any work I completed was appreciated by someone which gave me a sense of purpose. The trainees were extremely welcoming and I even had the opportunity to play hockey with them! The friendliness of the trainees and the other work experience students (some of which I am still in contact with) was the icing on the cake of an already amazing week.
4. How well organised was your work experience?
Compared to work experience placements offered by other firms, this programme was very well organised. I liked the structure of having activities in the morning and then legal work in the afternoon. There was always work that needed to be done so you never felt like you were being a nuisance for asking.
5. How much did you learn about the company culture and what it would be like to work there?
I learned a lot. We had a whole talk on Pinsent Masons' purpose as a company. As well as wanting to provide the very best legal service and business advice for its clients, it places a large emphasis on corporate social responsibility, which is a quality that resonated with me. We were also given a talk on all of the pastoral support available at the firm which proved that, in keeping with the times, the firm cares a lot about its employees. The friendly atmosphere created by all members of the firm provides an enviable environment to work in. The hockey match I played with some of the trainees also showed that employees are free to have fun at work.
6. How much did your work experience help you in deciding on your future career path?
It has allowed me to decide, with full conviction, that I want to be a lawyer. I found all of the work and lectures fascinating and incredibly engaging. After this week, I cannot see myself pursuing another career. I will also seek to work in a firm that is as devoted to its employees and wider society as Pinsent Masons. In a good way, though, it hasn't helped me decide which field of law I want to specialise in. I thoroughly enjoyed the advocacy involved in my role in the mock employment tribunal which has opened my eyes to the world of litigation - something I preconceived I wouldn't be interested in.
7. Were you paid or reimbursed for this experience?
We were given a £5 Coop voucher to purchase lunch on the first day. There was free coffee, tea, water and fruit in the canteen, though. The 1/10 is only an indication of the level that we were paid (1/5 of our lunches) and not an indication of my approval. In my opinion, Pinsent Masons were being very generous in paying for even one of our lunches as the experience of the programme alone is worth so much and it is not economically viable for them to undertake such a programme anyway.
8. Were there opportunities for networking and meeting other employees?
We were encouraged to eat our lunches in the canteen to maximise our opportunity to meet and communicate with other employees. We were always introduced to all of the members of any team we were working in. The fact that we stayed in each team for more than a day meant you built a relatively strong bond with those working around you, especially your supervising trainee. The hockey match that we were invited to play at allowed for further networking.
9a. Would you recommend Pinsent Masons to a friend?
The programme is incredibly well structured and thought out when compared to similar programmes offered by other law firms. The work that is to be completed is actually engaging and not just looking for errors in contracts. You learn a lot about commercial law, rather than generic office work. Everyone is also exceptionally friendly and welcoming.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Pinsent Masons?
Try and make yourself stand out in your application - there were over 700 applicants this year for under 100 places across the UK. Although the application process is more rigourous than other firms, it is worth it. If successful, relish the experience and start every day willing to work hard. Don't be afraid to ask questions that will maximise what you gain from this week. Definitely play in the hockey match if it is offered, even if you have never played as in my case. Also, don't be afraid to choose the role of a representative in the mock employment tribunal - even if it involves far more work than other roles, it is very interesting and a great learning experience.
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