1. Please give an overview of what your work experience involved:
The programme struck a balance between theory and practical, encompassing equally insightful presentations and hands-on work in rotating departments. I spent the first 2 days within the employment department, being able to sit in meetings and undertake my own supervised work load (creating bundles of documents, completing checklists and shadowing). The remainder was spent in Banking and Restructuring, of which I was given some reads and a research project into current office affairs. Underlying this was more bureaucratic duties such as printing, making files and so forth, all being tasks entailed with the profession. For this practical part of the experience, I was assigned supervisors who were most welcoming and accessible. Practical duties aside, the presentations set in the beautiful boardrooms proved greatly insightful, discussing the fundamentals of entering the legal profession and participating in activities that reassembled those undertaken by solicitors/paralegals day-to-day. These explored both contentious litigation and transactional work, with specific activities involving presenting ideas on business strategy and reviewing a defamation case, just to name a couple. One would have a presentation/activity each morning. To finalise the week, everyone participated in a mock employment tribunal, following a preparatory morning earlier in the week where we were given multiple resources to form a case. Realism was added by the room layout reassembling that of an actual court room. Cross-examination, giving evidence and closing with statements were all part of the activity. The activities really did prove enjoyable and engaging, whilst also being educational, but also founded friendships.
And as an added bonus, refreshments and snacks were provided throughout the week (Inc. a variety of tea, Coffee, water - both still and sparkling, and biscuits).
2. What training and skills development did you learn from your work experience?
Upon starting the week, it was mandatory that we all undertook IT training that familiarised us with office software. This prepared us for the week ahead, enabling us to undertake our office duties assigned by our supervisors. Having been situated in Banking and Restructuring for a majority of the week, I received training on particulars such as security reviews. This provided an insight into the duties of the solicitors in the department.
Apart from specific legal skills, I found that my confidence had soared. This was due to me having to communicate on all levels, whether this be to members in the department team or presenting in front of my peers. More transferrable skills include teamwork, resilience and open-mindedness which were provided by group activities (especially that of the mock tribunal) by where we all worked collectively to understand complex legal jargon and to formulate a strong case, which also highlighted the value of research and preparation.
3. To what extent did you enjoy your work experience?
It sure was an experience! Whether it was travelling into the busy city, working within a corporate setting situated in an architectural masterpiece or undertaking legal work, it all contributed to my enjoyment. But above all, it was the culture present at Pinsent Masons which made me feel welcome. With its agile working, it was clear that culture is at the forefront of the firm, emphasising the value of working relations.
4. How well organised was your work experience?
Extremely Organised! Upon arrival, I was given a welcome pack which included various resources. Within was a timetable which proved to be accurately followed. Even prior to starting, regular correspondence was present between candidates and the firm. Any queries I had before starting were answered promptly. Activities were scheduled in a rational order with a tour, IT training, introductory meetings with our supervisors and other office particulars being scheduled before we undertook our supervised placements.
5. How much did you learn about the company culture and what it would be like to work there?
It was immediately present that the firm values its culture as cornerstones for a successful business. I found it very unorthodox at start when observing that staff are not seated in a hierarchal manner, nor do they have permanent desks. It was common to not know whether you were sitting next to a partner or a trainee paralegal. After consideration, this embodies the friendly and open culture present at Pinsent Masons and fuels their success as a law firm. Presentations were delivered on future prospects and opportunities to work at Pinsent Masons, whether this was the vacation scheme or a permanent role.
6. How much did your work experience help you in deciding on your future career path?
Prior to the experience, I had no intention of going into law, strange as I can appreciate it may seem. But after the experience, it seems I have some serious considerations to think about. This was mainly due to the staff sharing there experience at Pinsent Masons with me and correcting some misconceptions I might have had. A presentation into entering the legal profession was also of advantage. But even if I do not pursue a career in law, it has confirmed my desire to work in a corporate setting and at firm that embodies a strong culture such as that present at Pinsent Masons.
7. Were you paid or reimbursed for this experience?
Not in monetary terms but this is easily explained by the scale of the project, especially considering the opportunity is ran in numerous offices. We were however gifted a voucher to pay for our lunch on the first Monday. But by no means was the experience expensive. The cafeteria was greatly subsidised with one easily able to purchase a generous lunch with a drink for less that £5.00. Refreshments (including water, biscuits and a variety of hot drinks) were available throughout the day free of charge.
Above all, the opportunity to obtain work experience in the legal profession greatly outweighed the small cost of the experience, with all the value it adds to ones CV and personal statement.
8. Were there opportunities for networking and meeting other employees?
The open layout of the office meant that you would interact with members from all different areas of the firm. The agile working also meant that I would sit next to different people each day, furthering my relations and confidence. Upon taking your placement in a department, you would be introduced to the whole team of which started a relationship that would be fostered throughout your time. I met a multitude of people, stemming from those in operations through to partners and even had the opportunity to meet employees in court.
9a. Would you recommend Pinsent Masons to a friend?
In the legal profession, obtaining work experience in such a large company is beyond difficult. Pinsent Masons offers an insightful programme that incorporates a balance between erudition and practice, really giving you a feel for the legal profession. But even if you are unsure of pursuing a career in law, it gives one an excellent feel for corporate working. I cannot overstate its value, whether this be realised on your C.V. or in your transferrable skills.
With academic benefits aside, you will also meet some truly interesting people, whether this be legal professionals who can share their knowledge with you or the friends you will make who share the same interests and who only add to the experience.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Pinsent Masons?
- Dress Code is smart, with males dressing in suits yet it is uncommon to see male staff wearing ties (unless they meet with clients) - nonetheless, staff still appear smart. - Be on time. - Don't hesitate to ask questions or show interest. Staff are more than happy to engage with you. - Make an effort to make friends with everyone - you only have 5 days so make the most of it! - Dress down Friday may fall on your placement, so ask your supervisor prior. If this is the case, staff wear a variety of clothing stemming from jeans to ordinary business attire.
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