Why did you choose Shearman & Sterling?
I was attracted to Shearman & Sterling for several reasons. Firstly, their reputation as one of the top international law firms in the world reassured me that the training I received would be second to none. The relatively small size of the intakes means the trainees are a tight-knit group and an excellent source of support. There are also fantastic travel opportunities, even during your training contract - so far trainees from my year have been to Abu Dhabi, Brussels, Singapore and Hong Kong! I think one of the most attractive aspects of Shearman's was how down to earth and friendly everyone was when I came for my interviews – it was a totally different experience to previous assessment days and I felt very comfortable straight away.
What do you think about the culture of the Firm?
Each department at Shearman's has its own culture, which is great as a trainee because you have to learn to adapt to different ways of doing things and can find out what suits you best. The London office is very friendly and it's refreshing to walk down the corridor and have people smile at you! While the emphasis is definitely on working hard, everyone works as a team, no one seems to take themselves too seriously and there are plenty of social events, clubs and charities to get involved with; this gives you an opportunity to get to know other associates within the firm across the globe.
What was your first week with the firm like?
Your first few weeks at the firm aren't actually at your desk; you attend the Professional Skills Course and then have several days' induction at the office where they teach you how to use the computers and lots of the associates and partners come to talk to you about various aspects of the firm and office life. There are also social events at lunch times and in the evenings. This meant that by the time I started at my desk I already knew quite a few people, I could just about find my way round the office (apart from one unfortunate wrong-turn into the men's loos) and as a result the whole experience was much less daunting!
What has been your most enjoyable moment so far?
It's difficult to pick "the highlight" of my training contract so far as so much has happened. One aspect that has brought me a lot of satisfaction is how much my confidence has increased, both in my professional and personal life. As a trainee at Shearman & Sterling, you're given as much responsibility as you can prove you can handle, and so it really is a boost when you're told you did a good job on a complex matter.
What are you most looking forward to in your future with Shearman & Sterling?
Qualifying! As I learn how to handle higher levels of responsibility, liaise with colleagues and communicate with clients I can feel my confidence in my abilities growing and I'm really excited about joining a department on a permanent basis and getting stuck in.
What advice would you give to someone looking for a training contract?
I think it's important to give some thought as to what you want out of your career and then do lots of research to try and find the law firms that look like they will suit your ambitions and your character – don't try and mould yourself into a different person to suit each and every firm out there. Keep up with what is going on in the world and make sure you understand where the law firm you're applying to fits in and the type of work they undertake. It's crucial that you are interested in what they do or you won't get the best out of your training contract. Vacation schemes are a fantastic opportunity for you to get to know a law firm and a law firm to get to know you; as many of my colleagues here will testify!