Name: Nicola Gaukroger
University: Trinity Hall, Cambridge, History and Social and Political Sciences (predominantly Psychology)
GDL: BPP, London
LPC: The City Law School, London (part of City University London)
Job Title: Trainee Solicitor with Irwin Mitchell
What do you actually do? I am just about to complete my second seat which is in the industrial disease team. Most of the cases in this department arise out of asbestos related diseases, especially Mesothelioma. My tasks vary on a day-to-day basis but include the following:
- Drafting Instructions to Counsel
- Taking witness statements from clients or their family members
- Reviewing medical evidence
- Tracing former employers and their insurers
- Issuing proceedings
- Drafting Schedules of Loss
- Writing letters of claim
What did the application process entail? I made applications to about ten different firms and did vacation schemes at four of them. In order to obtain a place on the vacation scheme at Irwin Mitchell I attended an assessment centre. This consisted of a group exercise, a written task, a verbal reasoning task, and giving a five minute presentation to a member of the HR team. Having been successful at this stage I was invited to spend a week in the employment department in London. Following this I was interviewed by a Partner and a member of HR.
What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides? The variety of the work I do and a sense of achievement when I have worked on a file which settles.
There aren’t too many downsides. Time recording can take a while to get used to. There are also a lot of deadlines so diarising everything becomes very important.
What skills do you think you need to succeed? The ability to build a good rapport with clients is vital, as is the ability to work well with other members of your team. Good writing skills are also crucial as you will be writing a lot of letters!
What advice would you give other graduates considering a career in law? To do as much research as possible and as early as possible. The larger firms recruit two years in advance and if you are fortunate enough to obtain a training contract at this stage, your GDL and LPC fees may be paid. Vacation schemes are an ideal way of gaining an insight into the life of a solicitor, as are law fairs and open days. These look good on a CV, and also provide an opportunity to test the reality against any preconceived ideas.