5 Minutes With… Alicia Loh, Trainee, Shearman & Sterling
Q. Which seat of your training contract are you in and which department do you sit in?
I'm in my first seat and sitting in Finance.
Q. What is a typical trainee task in your department?
Creating and updating conditions precedent (CP) checklists! Another typical trainee task is compiling finance and corporate documents.
Q. Do you feel like your training so far has given you a clear idea of what direction you would like to take your career in?
Yes, I have a better idea of what I enjoy and what kind of work I find interesting. Shearman also has a mentor system set up, which has helped me decide what seats I want to do next.
Q. What support do you receive from HR as an employee at Shearman & Sterling?
Shearman's HR team (including Wellbeing!) has been very helpful and I feel comfortable speaking to them, including about things such as the practicalities of seat rotations or secondments. They check in on new trainees quite often, which is nice without being intrusive.
Q. What’s the support system like in your current seat—is it easy to develop a working relationship with partners, associates and fellow trainees?
The people at Shearman are genuinely friendly and there is a real sense of teamwork. Trainees are typically sat with associates, who are their supervisors, and mine has been very supportive. Other associates and even the second-year trainees can be immensely helpful, especially when you're still trying to get to grips with the basics!
Realistically, people are almost always busy, but what I really appreciate about Shearman is that people—even the partners—will still take some time out of their day to explain something to you because they understand that you need to learn.
Q. In what ways do you get to socialise with other trainees in your intake?
We have a trainee social committee, which I'm a member of, and we organise two socials a seat (i.e. four each year). We also get together on our own quite often, whether for lunch/dinner, a movie night or drinks. It's great having an intake of really lovely people that I'm glad to be friends with now.
Q. If you won £10 million on the lottery, what’s the first thing would you do?
Get on the housing ladder…
Q. What is your favourite weekend activity?
My weekends are usually spent at church and with friends. I've also started going to musicals… feel free to send recommendations my way! My favourite musical is Hamilton.
Q. Can you talk us through an average day at work?
I usually get in just before 9.30am and do a quick run-through of my tasks for the day and read my emails. We often have training throughout the day—they’re typically either at breakfast or lunch—and I do my best to attend them, though urgent tasks do come up that take priority. Shearman also organises quite interesting talks, including one on generational differences recently.
The day is generally quite busy, especially as everyone gets put on several projects at the same time. I jump from one project to another several times each day, so there's never a boring moment! When I do get a quieter period though, I do some pro bono work, of which the firm is really supportive.
Q. What would your superpower be and why?
At the moment, I'd love the ability to stop time, simply because there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day! Being able to fly would be quite cool too…
Q. What has been a highlight of your experience as a trainee so far?
I'm really enjoying the learning curve. Throughout my first month, every single task I did was new and I hardly did the same thing twice! I'm starting to do certain tasks more frequently now, but there's always something new to learn and I really enjoy that.
Q. How do you build your commercial awareness?
The Financial Times is fantastic for building commercial awareness—read the 'companies' category in particular and try to follow some deals that you have genuine interest in. When I was applying for vacation schemes and training contracts, I read the Financial Times every other day and still try to do so. You can even set up alerts for certain topics or companies.
Q. When did you decide law was the career for you?
I decided I wanted to be a solicitor during my second year of university. Interestingly enough, I never really intended to be a lawyer despite reading law! However, a series of talks and events held at my university, along with an internship at a law firm, convinced me that a career in law would be a worthwhile pursuit. The work seemed very stimulating, which was crucial to me, and I was excited by the prospect of doing commercial law in the City.
Q. What advice would you give to anyone who’s interested in training at the firm?
Make the effort to truly get to know the firm. Shearman has several Open Days throughout the year, and even presentations where you can learn more about what we do and speak to us directly. These are great opportunities for you to get an insight into Shearman's work and meet the people.
When you apply, find out what makes the firm stand out—not just in general, but also to you personally.