TSS Interview with Trainee Solicitor, Samuel Gill

The subject for this latest interview is trainee solicitor Samuel Gill who is undertaking his training contract in a small firm in Manchester.

Samuel reveals the very real issue of student debt and also illustrates the importance of legal work experience.

He also offers some good advice to those seeking to follow in his footsteps.

1. Why did you decide you wanted to become a solicitor? When did you make the decision?

When I was at school I decided I wanted to study Law after doing a couple of of work experience placements at the firm where my Dad works.

2. What academic route did you take to become a trainee? Would you do it differently if you had your time again? What academic grades have you achieved from A-Levels to date?

A-Levels, Degree and then LPC (break in between Degree and LPC). Achieved following A-level grades: History B General Studies B Chemistry C Maths C Looking back I think I would have chosen different subjects, possibly Geography, Music and Law (which was not an option at my college).

3. How did you fund your legal studies? Were you in debt at the end of them? If so, how much? (optional)

Loan from Natwest. Very much in debt at the moment, had to take out £15k loan to funds studies, rent and living costs. Didn’t manage to get any sponsorship. Start paying back the loan in April 2010!

4. What sort of firm/organisation are you training at?

Small firm in the centre of Manchester specialising in property (commercial and residential) and civil litigation (mainly financial mis-selling). Also, do some will and probate work and employment litigation amongst various other niche areas.

5. When did you secure your training contract? How many applications did you make and how many interviews did you have?

May 2009, I made 7 applications in total over the course of about 6 months. I had one interview for this job and was offered the place. No other interviews with other firms.

6. Before securing your training contract did you gain any work experience within the legal profession? If so, what?

Yes. I did a couple of placements at the firm where my Dad worked in various depts. I did a placement at my Uncle’s firm in the Criminal dept. I did a couple of mini pupilages with a Barrister at Leeds and York Crown Court.

7. What’s the best thing and the worst thing about studying law?

Best thing is the variety of different areas you can cover. Worst thing is that some areas can be very dry, and there is alot of reading involved.

8. What sort of career, and work, do you intend to pursue after your training contract?

Career in the legal profession for the near future. Not sure ten or fifteen years down the line, possibly would like to set up my own business.

9. What advice would you give to someone considering studying and training to become a solicitor? Is there anything else you would like to add?

Make sure you really want to do it, research into different areas, firms etc. If you are not 100% committed there is no point as you will not be happy. Get organised, send off as many applications as you can as early as possible. From hindsight, I would not advise somebody to commence the LPC without having a training contract in place, as it is an awful lot of money to waste if you are not successful in the long term.

Matt Oliver

Matt is a former FTSE 100 in-house lawyer, an experienced legal career coach and MD of Trainee Solicitor Surgery. He provides entry level law careers advice to students and graduates through his writing and mentoring. He also offers private one to one coaching to those struggling with training contract, vacation scheme or paralegal applications and interviews. Find out more about Matt's 1-2-1 Coaching >>>>

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