CAREERS INSIGHTS - ALEX SMITH @ TAYLOR VINTERS
Alex is a 3rd Year LLB Law Student
Tell us about the application process.
There's the standard application and verbal reasoning test. This is very similar to many other firms. The interview stage is make or break - there's no assessment day at Taylor Vinters. The interview itself is a long one, some 90 minutes long. At first I thought it was going to be a nightmare, but I genuinely believe it provides a benefit. It enabled me to have a real discussion with the interviewers, as well as answer their set questions. The interviewers seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say, and were not in a hurry to move on to their next question. There's an emphasis on your application form (so make sure it's top notch!) and from there, the 90 minutes actually goes really quickly, such that any shorter interviews you may do at other firms feel too short! My top tip for the application process would be to make sure the things you put down on your application to differentiate yourself are solid, and that you're prepared to talk about them almost conversationally with the interviewers.
What type of work were you involved in?
Drafting advice notes to clients; creating research notes for use by other solicitors; drafting legal documents such as notices and board minutes; and taking notes of client meetings. The Vacation Scheme also included a group project. I sat one week in Commercial Disputes (Litigation) and one week in Corporate.
What made you apply to this particular firm?
They have a focus on working with start-up businesses, especially in the technology sector. I am quite the tech geek, so I thought this would be a good match for me! It was my impression that the firm struck the perfect balance between being 'small' enough to let its lawyers enjoy a work-life balance and invoking a true team spirit, whilst also advising on some important, interesting, and rather large transactions.
Did you get involved in any social activities?
Yes. There was a lunch time with the trainees at the firm, as well as a pizza evening with any of the Taylor Vinters team that came along. Finally, there were some drinks at a local pub to wind down early in the second week (paid for by the firm!).
What has your participation on the placement taught you?
Firstly, it taught me that Taylor Vinters is definitely the sort of place I want to be. When I started my degree, I thought that I wanted to be a hot shot lawyer at a magic circle firm, working late hours and earning tons of money. But having spoken to the solicitors at the firm on my placement, and combining my own experiences on the placement and work experience I have done at a larger firm, I decided that that path was not for me. On a more basic level, I did learn a (small) part of Corporate and Litigation law. I now know how to draft a s.21 notice to regain possession of a property, for example. I also know what 'phantom shares' are. I'm quite an inquisitive person so I enjoyed just straight up learning the law. It's quite different in practice compared to what you learn on a degree, though.
What did you enjoy most about the placement?
Whichever department you are in, you feel like a part of that team. You're not some inconvenient stranger who has been placed at a desk and given a load of photocopying to do. I made a research note for a senior associate, and rather than just being asked to research a particular thing, I got to listen to an internal call about the matter and was given copies of the documents that were being disputed. Because of this little bit of inclusion, I was able to produce a much more relevant document than I would have done if I were kept in the dark about the issue. The associate liked the note and actually called me (from the London office) to say how pleased he was with my work. A little bit of praise goes a long way, and in my eyes it supported the notion that the firm is a friendly, inclusive atmosphere where you really feel a part of the team.
What did you enjoy least about the placement?
This is less about the firm and more about the nature of legal work. At times there was work I had to do that I would rather not have been doing - often legal research that didn't seem to have an answer. But the actual placement itself - from the seats and staff to the social events and Q&A sessions - was superb.
Have you been offered any further work experience or employment following the placement?
I was offered - and have accepted - a training contract.
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