Name: Christie Charlton
Degree and university: LLB Law (2:1), Manchester University
Job Title: Trainee, Addleshaw Goddard
Why did you decide on a career in law? Having dabbled in debating and enjoyed critical and analytical subjects throughout school, the law seemed a natural choice. Early work experience and my Law degree confirmed that I was more suited to the higher levels of team work and client contact associated with solicitors rather than the Bar, and so I then turned my mind to what area I thought would tick the right boxes for me. I took the time to attend Open Days and Vacation Schemes across the board – from large regional, to small specialist, and international and City firms – and chose to apply to Addleshaw Goddard on the basis of this experience, the breadth of commercial and transactional practice it undertakes, and the fact it has a great bunch of people.
What type of work are you doing in your current seat? I’m currently in Corporate and am involved in a huge variety of work. The team makes sure trainees get a taste of everything that being a corporate lawyer is about, so to date I’ve been involved in share issues, bond issues, and company sales. The kind of work that lands on my desk day-to-day includes board minutes, due diligence, verification, and company reports.
What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides? There’s never a dull moment! I enjoy being busy and being challenged, and the intellectual work out is exactly what I came into the law for. Solving client problems and being the ‘can-do’ people is hugely satisfying, particularly when you’re really getting down to the nitty gritty elements of a deal. The key thing for me though is the people. On the one hand there are the clients who I’ve been able to work alongside — be they from banks or companies, or from my case in-house on secondment which saw me jetting off to Cameroon — and on the other hand, the faces that I see in the office on a daily basis. The firm is growing through attracting and retaining lawyers who genuinely enjoy working here, but who realise that there’s more to life than the day job. and that’s massively important to me.
Particularly at the trainee level, and probably more so in transactional seats, unpredictable working patterns can be rather frustrating. There is no such thing as a normal hours job in a City firm, although usually you can get a good handle on when you’ll have to knuckle down and put those extra hours in. Of course, extra long hours usually means extra big celebrations at closing!
What strengths do you need to succeed? The ability to think critically and commercially with regards to long and short term outcomes because an issue will never be as black and white as the client would have you believe! Interpersonal skills are fundamentally important, both in terms of day-to-day work within your team and also working alongside clients. Clients and colleagues should feel able (within reason!) to ask you anything. As a trainee this is hugely important; the ability to remain enthusiastic and self-motivated isn’t an easy task, but one that makes a huge difference to everyone when you can still crack a smile at two in the morning!
What advice would you give to graduates considering a career in law? Take every opportunity that comes your way to experience different areas of law. The workplace opportunities are huge — in-house, regional, US, City, Magic Circle, niche, national, pro bono, high street — and the practice areas are limitless. Get as broad a range of experience as you can and talk to as many people as possible, grill them and find out what makes them tick about what they do. The competition for training contracts is huge and getting stronger every year so apply to as many firms as you can, but never produce ‘identi-kit’ applications – recruiters can spot them a mile off. Research firms and find something, be it CSR, clients or international scope, that genuinely enthuses you about them – if you can convey this you’re halfway there.