Trainee Solicitor at Herbert Smith Freehills
Where are you now and what are you doing?
I am currently employed by Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, where I work as a trainee solicitor in the Belfast office. I joined the firm as a legal analyst / paralegal on a fixed-term basis in 2014 while I was still undertaking a full-time postgraduate course, left to complete my dissertation, re-joined as a part-time employee in October 2014 and finally obtained permanent full-time employment in January 2015. I applied via the internal recruitment system for a position as a trainee and was very fortunate to be awarded a training contract in September 2016.
I have had many opportunities to get involved with an array of different tasks and activities throughout my time with HSF. I have worked in the Belfast office's Disputes and Corporate departments where I have been involved primarily in document review, project management and administration, due diligence and contract audit tasks. I have taken advantage of opportunities offered by HSF to improve and expand my commercial awareness, practical skills, knowledge and experience, which have been very valuable component of my personal and professional development. Additionally, I am involved in several office committees, including the University Liaison committee, which organised an event for postgraduate students in which I participated.
How did you get there?
I think the most important factor is confidence; it is important to be willing to take advantage of opportunities as they arise and not allow chances for personal or professional development to pass by. Personal organisation is likewise very significant; we should each do our best to keep things controlled and ensure that we present a professional and capable face to our colleagues, peers and employers.
Making use of Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen's
During my time at QUB, I made several visits to the Careers service in the Student Guidance Centre and often spoke to careers advisors on a one to one basis. I found this to be an effective means of gathering and collating advice and information, which subsequently proved to be very useful as I completed job applications and (in particular) attended interviews during and after my studies.
Advice for current Queen's students
The most important thing is to focus on developing practical skills and experience and to understand how they can be valuable to prospective employers. This means investigating the sector you want to work in and who you think you may want to work for within that sector, and understand what they do, who their customers are and what you can do for them as much as what they can do for you. You will get out what you put in.