Name: Richard Hinwood
Degree and University: Oxford Jurisprudence
Work Title: Trainee, Withers
Why did you decide to study law? I wanted a career that would be both stimulating and challenging. Working at Withers provides me with ample opportunity to advise and problem solve for high net worth individual clients, whether on their personal or business matters.
What did the application process involve? The first stage was an online application.
The second stage was a written test and a first-round interview with one Partner.
This gave me a chance to show my knowledge and interest in the firm and its work,
as well as an opportunity to discuss my social interests and activities.
The written test included tasks ranging from clear writing/drafting, to
general commercial awareness. The final stage of the process was a second-round interview before two Partners. The start of the interview involved giving a ten-minute presentation on one of five specified topics, which at the time included the 2012 Olympics, ID cards, and the congestion charge zone. The presentation provided a good opportunity to demonstrate my verbal skills, particularly in subsequent questioning from the interviewers. Both interviews provided ample opportunity to ask questions about the firm, from the training provided at Withers, to the social events organised by the firm.
After the second round interview, a current trainee showed me around the London
office, and was happy to answer any other questions I had about the firm. Withers continued to make me feel welcome at each visit to the office, and this made a lasting impression when choosing my training contract.
What type of work are you doing in your current seat? I am currently sat in the small but specialised property litigation team. I work on a wide range of property disputes, including landlord and tenant disputes, enfranchisement claims, failed property
sales, defective building works, and boundary disputes. Being one of only four solicitors in the department means that I have an integral role to play in the work undertaken, and meet/speak with clients on a regular basis. I also draft letters and court applications on a daily basis, as well as attending court hearings.
What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides? I like the high level of responsibility and client contact. I spend a significant amount of time doing fee-earning work on files, rather than photocopying and filing. I have great work colleagues. Withers is a firm full of genuine and approachable people, from the support staff to the partners. Withers also has a true open door policy that makes it easy to approach people to ask for advice whenever needed. I also like the training. We are encouraged to go on training courses including presentation and drafting skills, and we also have the opportunity to attend language classes.
As with all City jobs, there is the odd occasion where working after hours is required to provide the standard of care and support expected by our clients. Even so, the work is still often interesting, and your work and effort is undoubtedly appreciated. Withers is not a firm with a ‘work late’ culture, and ‘work’ after hours can often include business development events with clients or business contacts. These can range from wine tasting sessions, to football tournaments, so if you are required to spend your evening with the firm, there are definitely worse ways of doing so!
What skills do you think you need to be a successful lawyer?
- Written skills – Whether drafting letters to clients or legal documents for court, spelling,
punctuation, grammar, and clarity are all key to making the right impression.
- Oral skills – These are used on a day-to-day basis, whether speaking to clients on the
phone, suggesting an idea at a meeting, or giving a presentation.
- Organisational ability – working in a law firm can be hectic at the quietist of times, and
the best way of prioritising work and staying on top of meetings is to keep yourself
- Flexibility – as soon as you get organised, something else urgent always happens! You
have to be able to think on your feet and adapt.
- Professionalism – you are representing both your firm and your clients, whether by what
you write, say, or do.
What would be your best advice for graduates wanting to come into the law sector?
Be proactive and find out as much as you can about the law and the kind of firms you would like to work in. Ask friends/family, look at the various publications and websites, and ask indepth questions during interviews/information days.