In early December last year, I was given the opportunity to attend the NationalLawLive conference. There were 138 delegates selected to attend this prestigious event. But unfortunately, that meant that many were unable to benefit from this opportunity. I am hoping that by writing this article you will gain an understanding of what the event had to offer, and that it encourages you to put yourself forward for future NationalLawLive and CityLawLive events.
A video from the day – can you spot me?
We were conveniently provided with a list of all 138 delegates attending. I have used this information to produce some interesting statistics for you all.
- 10 MLaw Students attended (whoopy!)
- 21 Non-Law Students attended
- 21 Graduates
To my surprise, there was a very diverse pool of students contrary to what I had originally envisaged when I applied. As you can see, this event is not just for undergraduates, or law students in particular, so please do not be deterred from applying!
The morning session was with the keynote speaker Andrew Davies, a partner in DLA Piper’s finance and projects group. Andrew gave some useful advice on vacation schemes – what are they and how to secure them. He spoke of the training programme at DLA in Manchester. He felt that the training was of better quality as opposed to training in London where the all too familiar situation of being “tied to a photocopier” might occur. Andrew also reminded us all to “try and stay open minded” as there are “low lights” of commercial work. He commented on the disastrous situation of spending “38 hours in the same pair of shoes”. Andrew describes the firm as very client focused – growing relationships with clients and introducing them to other practice areas and other jurisdictions that DLA has to offer. He describes the firm’s culture as dynamic, enthusiastic, driven and fun. People at DLA are fun, there is a good quality of work even in the northern territory. You can find out more about Andrew Davies on the LawCareers.net website here.
Following our keynote speaker, we had a panel discussion with partners and firm managers from Addleshaw Goddard, Squire Patton Boggs, Irwin Mitchell and Osborne Clarke. This was a brilliant opportunity for the delegates to put forward their questions in relation to the future issues which the firms will have to tackle. Alternative Business Structures and BREXIT were some of the hot topics for discussion.
Each delegate was given the opportunity to select firms for morning and afternoon sessions. Every delegate was allocated to at least one of their first choices. These were:
- DLA Piper – Corporate
- Nabarro – Real Estate
- Osborne Clarke – Litigation
- Squire Patton Boggs – International M&A
- Addleshaw Goddard – Banking
- Eversheds LLP – Commercial Awareness
- Irwin Mitchell – Personal Injury
- Shoosmiths – IP and Creative Industries
Most delegates received pre-reading for the workshop via email. This was a brilliant opportunity to prepare for the workshop, and allowed us to move swiftly through each of the activities.
Nabarro on Real Estate
The Nabarro workshop was led by Maria Scott, a real estate partner who joined as a trainee in the late 90s. The workshop evolved around a practical due diligence task which required delegates to work in groups on a hypothetical transaction. As a second year law student with no expertise in land law, I was lucky to be allocated to a group of fabulous LPC students who really knew their stuff. We were tasked to look through a title register, heads of terms, memos and correspondence with the client and consultancy firms, to identify the issues the client might face as a result of acquiring the land. With the guidance of Maria and one of the firm’s trainees, we were able to identify the issues which the client might want to discuss with the vendor before purchasing.
Addleshaw Goddard on Banking
The AG workshop was delivered in groups by NQs with experience in Banking. This was essentially another due diligence activity which, in particular, demanded a high level of intellectual rigour. To break it down, a company sought to acquire another company, but it needed the funding to back the transaction. Finally the years of A-Level accounting were paying dividends! There was lots of lingo to grasp, from revolving credit facilities through to bullet loans. But, I assure, it all fell into place when put into practice. We considered the sources of lending, debenture agreements, the financial institutions and the implications which these elements of the transaction might have on the client.
Reflection on Skills
Throughout the day I had the opportunity to speak with partners and trainees about the culture, ethos and strategies of the firms. I had jotted down a list of qualities which the firms believed were valued in prospective trainees.
- Show your personality – everyone will be trying the same tricks in their application, they want to know what makes you who you are.
- Show a commitment – you need to be prepared to demonstrate your commitment to law, be it staying behind at the office, or turning out the grades.
- Get to know the firm – law firms are similar in nature, but they all have their own USP, their own culture and their own strategy.
- Do not exaggerate yourself – of course if you work part time, mention it and draw out the skills you have gained. But be careful not to exaggerate these examples, you need to back it all up with real situations.
- Have stability and longevity – ultimately these are the qualities that will carry you through your training contract, so get organised and get a feel for the different practice areas.
NationalLawLive is a fantastic opportunity for students with ambitions vested in commercial work, but it has also opened eyes to commercial work in the north, a territory which is thriving and expanding. The important point is that not every aspiring commercial solicitor has to migrate south for exciting and stimulating work!
Unfortunately there are not enough hours in the day to talk in detail about every last detail. Nevertheless, I hope you found this article useful when you come to consider your career trajectory and I hope it encourages to you put yourself forward for future opportunities such as NationalLawLive!
Find out more about NationalLawLive here
A special thanks to LawCareers.net for making this opportunity available
And if you did not spot me in the video, here I am!