Name: William Samengo-Turner
Degree and university: History at Oxford.
Work title: Trainee solicitor, Allen & Overy.
What do you actually do? It’s fairly difficult to give a comprehensive list of what I do as the work differs from department to department. At my level there’s obviously a lot of document management, particularly on large deals. Trainees are often the first port-of-call for research tasks and simple drafting, but we’re also expected to take minutes at meetings, help out with recruitment and marketing events, and get involved in charity work for the firm.
Why did you decide to go into the financial sector? The area in which I work is quite sharply focused on commercial and financial law and, to be honest, when it came to choosing a career I had very little interest in areas of law such as crime, family, and immigration. The slightly more academic aspect of working in the City which being a Commercial Lawyer brings appealed to me – I like to be able to see the workings of a particular transaction.
Would you undertake further training to enhance your career? As a lawyer you can’t really avoid training – changes take place every day, and you need to be coached in new procedures and disciplines. The beauty of working for a firm such as A&O is that your legal training is managed for you. In terms of further training, I would definitely spend time improving my foreign languages.
What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides? I’m lucky in that I get to work right in the thick of it on relatively high-profile matters; getting to see what’s going on behind the headlines is always interesting. Moreover, these deals will often be the first of their kind – solving problems that haven’t been considered before is always satisfying.
All jobs have downsides. Obviously the hours can be annoying but I think anyone considering a career at a city firm knows exactly what to expect on that front. You have to focus on a decent balance between work inside and outside the office.
What skills do you think you need to succeed? An attention to detail is invaluable, particularly as a trainee, but as far as I’m concerned an ability to communicate and argue well is key. Language is central to being a lawyer – you have to be able to use it well.
What advice would you give graduates coming into this sector? Get as much experience as you can on open days, vacation placements and seminars – there is a huge selection of firms in London so make sure you take enough time to pick the one that suits you.