At the time of writing, Amy Larcome is a second year trainee at Blake Morgan LLP and is currently in the Real Estate team in Thames Valley. In this article, she gives insights into her journey from training contract applications to preparing for qualification, providing some helpful hints and tips along the way.
When it comes to applications, I would start by writing down what is important to you. Are there specific practice areas you would like experience in, or clients you would like to advise? Is location a concern and does a firm with multiple offices attract you? Are you looking for a firm with good values and ethics and one that demonstrates corporate social responsibility? These are all factors that were key for me when applying and are what eventually lead me to Blake Morgan.
Make sure you do your research and shop around. Consider different types of firms and really think about whether they are a genuine fit for you. After being encouraged to do so by the University of Law, my first application was to a Magic Circle firm. Deep down, I knew it wasn’t the firm for me and this ultimately reflected in the quality of my application. I valued a work-life balance, experience in different areas of law and gaining as much exposure and responsibility during my training contract as possible, and so a firm like Blake Morgan was a much better fit.
Quality over quantity. Once you have a list of firms you are interested in, narrow this down to your top five – at least in the first instance! With the average application taking several hours, you’ll be more effective spending time on fewer applications and giving them your all. Delve deeper into the firm, browse the website, LinkedIn articles and resources such as The Legal 500 and pick out things that impress and excite you. Get an understanding of the firm’s ethos and approach and reflect these things in your application, ensuring your answers and experiences demonstrate why you should be accepted.
Preparation is key. Understanding the firm’s practice areas, clients and culture will help you excel in your interview, but you should also remind yourself of basic legal principles and keep up to date with current affairs and legal news. I was caught out in my interview at Blake Morgan when tested on basic contract law. I explained it had been four years since I studied contract and the partners interviewing me appreciated my honesty and ability to provide an answer, albeit it was based on common sense rather than legal knowledge!
Be confident (but not cocky) in the interview and don’t be afraid to show your personality. Remember, the interviewers were in the same position as you once upon a time. People at Blake Morgan, from support staff to partners, are extremely welcoming and want to see you grow and succeed, this is the same for the interview process. Ultimately, make sure you show your passion for law, your desire to work for the firm and why you are a great candidate.
The training contract
Starting the training contract was not as daunting as I thought it would be and Blake Morgan really keep in touch during the entire process, arranging meet-ups with future colleagues and trainees before your first day. Working for a full-service law firm, I have had the opportunity to work in many different areas of law and the range and quality of work has been excellent.
My first seat was in Succession and Tax in the Portsmouth office where I advised on lifetime estate planning, trust administration, court of protection, probate and wills. I then joined the Commercial Litigation team in Southampton working on contract and employment disputes, judicial review and Court of Appeal cases, intellectual property and insolvency matters.
My third seat was in Commercial Property in Reading where I worked on landlord and tenant matters (e.g. leases, portfolio acquisitions and estate management), charity law and sale and purchases. I am now in my last seat, split between Commercial Property and Property Litigation, gaining further property experience and advising on property disputes.
Throughout my training contract, I’ve had great exposure to all types of clients, from individuals and small businesses to large corporate and government entities. Blake Morgan encourages you to take on more responsibility as you progress and I am now confident in managing my own matters under supervision. As well as receiving valuable training directly from my supervisors, the firm offers regular legal and professional development training and provides many opportunities for networking.
With just under three months to go until I qualify, I am coming to the end of my training contract journey and starting to prepare for qualification into the profession. Blake Morgan has been a great firm to train at and has developed me both professionally and personally; I now feel more prepared than ever in becoming a qualified solicitor.