TSS Interview with Trainee Solicitor, Sarah Watts

The subject of this week’s interview is trainee solicitor, Sarah Watts. 

Sarah did some extensive research into different firms before deciding to train at a medium-sized commercial firm in London. 

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

I always liked the idea of entering a well established profession so I looked at law and medicine as options. I’ve always been a bit squeamish so medicine was soon ruled out. Also, I’ve always liked solving problems and debating so I thought law would be a good fit for me. I guess I decided I wanted to become a solicitor when I chose to apply to study law at uni.

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?

I did an LLB law degree at Manchester Uni and then did the LPC at the College of Law in Chester. I got 3 A’s at A-level, a 2:1 degree and a commendation at law school. I loved where I studied so wouldn’t change that but I might have done a less vocational degree such as a language and then done the legal conversion course instead.

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

My parents funded all my fees and paid my living expenses part with student loans and partly with various jobs. I was around £10,000 in debt by the end of the LPC.

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

I’m working in a medium sized commercial firm in London.

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

I got my training contract during the LPC year. I ended up making quite a lot of applications because I couldn’t decide who I wanted to work for and what work I wanted to do. I reckon I made around 70 applications and I had 8 interviews before I got my current job.

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

I did a work placement with a magic circle firm after Uni which was good fun but made me realise I didn’t want to work for a big firm – I didn’t think the culture suited me. I also did a couple of stints of work experience with a smaller firm in Manchester doing more high street work.

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

The best thing is that it touches on all areas of life and is therefore really interesting. The worst thing is the amount of reading there is – its not really a creative subject, more of an information overload!

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

I am hoping to qualify as a solicitor and get a newly qualified position with my current firm. I’ve really enjoyed Intellectual Property so am hoping that I am offered a job in the IP department.

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?

The law as a subject is vast and the legal profession is too. Definitely get some experience of different areas and do loads of research to find which areas you think you will find more enjoyable and be naturally suited to. Other than that just work hard and be professional and you will go far!

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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