Name: Peter Shepperd
Degree and university: BA Geography, University of Nottingham; Graduate Diploma in Law, College of Law (London); Legal Practice Course, BPP (Holborn, London)
Job title:Associate Solicitor, Simmons & Simmons
What do you actually do?
Essentially I solve problems for my clients using my knowledge of the law and the business in which my client operates. That can range from providing a discrete piece of advice, in one day, to providing ongoing advice, negotiating on a client’s behalf with third parties and facilitating a larger transaction through project management, over several months.
What skills do you need to do that?
It is necessary to have good analytical skills, an ability to think outside the box to ensure the solution given is the best and most appropriate available, and good communication skills to explain the solution to the client. Being able to build strong working relationships with, and gain the trust of, your internal colleagues and external clients will be very useful throughout a career in law.
How did you know you wanted a career in law?
I knew I enjoyed working in business from my work experience as a graduate, but I soon realised I wanted to advise many businesses at a higher level, rather than be involved in the day to day operations. A career in law was one option which provided this opportunity and the skill set I possessed, which seemed to match closely with those commonly stated as required for a career in law, made the decision to undertake a legal career relatively easy.
What would you like to be doing in ten years time?
Whilst many people would expect the first answer to be “a partner in a law firm", the truth is that the law provides you with a set of skills and experiences which can be used in many jobs and sectors. I would expect to be working in the law, in some capacity, and working in a challenging, stimulating and rewarding job: who knows, with a bit of luck, that may still be with Simmons & Simmons.
What’s the best thing about your job?
As I specialise in IT law, being involved in new developments in technology and assisting companies with their new ventures to facilitate that development.
And the worst?
The hours you have to work can be pretty demanding at times.
What advice would you give new graduates who want to do what you do?
Try to get some work experience in the legal profession, in either private practice (i.e. in a law firm) or in-house (i.e. working in a company’s legal department), and talk to as many people working in the profession as possible. Both of these are essential to understanding precisely what a career in law entails and deciding whether it is a career for you – this “research” will also help you justify your choice of career to potential employers. To introduce students to the legal profession, Simmons & Simmons, for example, offers vacation placements and open days to both law and non-law graduates/undergraduates.