Why did you choose Shearman & Sterling
I didn't want to go to a huge firm where I would be lost amongst the masses, but at the same time, I still wanted to do the top-tier work; this narrowed it down to the London offices of US origin firms.
I initially applied for a summer scheme at Shearman's, which I secured, and that experience assured me that this is where I wanted to complete my training. It offered everything I was looking for – a relatively small trainee intake, with the highest quality work.
What do you think about the culture of the Firm?
It will vary from department to department. It's a strange mix that somehow works perfectly! It's very sociable, laid-back and unpretentious, whilst also incorporating a very conscientious work ethic and an attitude of knuckling down and getting the job done without complaining. The ethos of team-work really comes across, which is very important.
What was your first week with the firm like?
Overwhelming - though I did expect that! In retrospect it was a very smooth transition, thanks to a thorough induction process that meant we got to meet a lot of people in a short space of time. My first seat was in the Tax group, wasn't hugely different from work at university in that it is very academic and research-based, which definitely made the transition to life in a law firm a little easier.
What has been the highlight of your training contract so far?
You never forget your first - your first closing, that is. It wasn't necessarily the biggest of deals, and looking back, I barely knew what I was doing, but when your first "Deal has closed" email hits your inbox, it's a great sense of satisfaction and achievement that provides a bit of extra validation for all the late nights.
What are you most looking forward to in your future with Shearman & Sterling?
Paradoxically, the fact that I don't know what to look forward to! It's hard to predict which deals you'll be working on in a few weeks time, let alone which department you'll qualify into, or even if you'll go abroad; it's all part of what keeps life interesting.
What advice would you give to someone looking for a training contract?
Be good on paper, and be even better in person. Don't pretend to be an expert at something unless you really are an expert at it – you will end up talking about something you don't really know about which just doesn't look good. And finally, speak with people at the firm. Use interviews and assessment centres to get a feel for the people that work there and ask them questions about their experiences at the firm – what deal have they just worked on? Why did they join? What type of work do trainees get involved in? Ask well thought-out questions that really tell you what you need to know about the firm so that you can make an educated decision about where to train.