It is easy for me to imagine a world where I did not manage to become a trainee solicitor. I’m from a non-law background, I’m one of the first members of my family to go to university, I have a Northern accent and an upper-limb deficiency. On top of that, I was state-school educated and achieved not-quite-perfect A Levels. And before university, I had never even met a solicitor. I had no idea if people like me could get training contracts in firms like Herbert Smith Freehills.
However, I spent my university years attempting to enhance my CV. I put myself forward for debating and essay writing competitions and I took evening classes on commercially relevant topics like the stock market and business in China. I even struggled my way through an intensive rock-climbing course (which is fairly challenging with only one hand!).
At the same time as building up my CV, I proactively developed a legal network. I went to as many open days and law workshops as I could, and even spent one Christmas holiday writing to every law firm in my hometown, asking for work experience. I also took advantage of my university’s alumni mentoring scheme which paired me with an Associate at Herbert Smith Freehills. My mentor became instrumental in helping me choose to apply to the firm, as I was interested in the work he was involved in.
Fortunately, my application was successful and after completing a winter vacation scheme, I was offered a training contract. Shortly after, I started writing a blog about my application experiences, with the hope of offering some tips, tricks and encouragement to other students from similar non-law backgrounds to me. This created the opportunity for me to help run confidence-building and application-focussed workshops for students at different universities.
My hope is that when I join the firm I can help the Graduate Recruitment team to run events that attract students from a wide range of backgrounds. It’d be brilliant to help applicants from underrepresented groups feel more confident during the recruitment process. I think it’s easy to feel intimidated when you don’t quite fit the mould, but Herbert Smith Freehills welcomes applications from students from all walks of life. And the diversity of the firm is one of the things that makes it such an appealing place to work.