Current Employer/Organisation Name
Cheyney Goulding LLP
What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?
Since graduating, I studied the Legal Practice Course with an additional MSc in Law, Business and Management at the University of Law, Guildford. After finishing this, I began working as a Paralegal within a Guildford law firm working largely in corporate law/mergers and acquisitions while also gaining experience in private client, dispute resolution, and property law. I will be commencing my training contract with a City law firm from September 2021.
Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?
‘Motivation’ for a career in law is one of the most difficult areas to pin down. Initially, I was looking for a service-focused career that would combine intellectual challenge, awareness of current affairs and competent interpersonal skills. I would say my motivation and my practice area interests were solidified once I began working full time. I thoroughly enjoy working with businesses and observing how legal services can help clients achieve their commercial objectives. This is particularly clear from a corporate/M&A perspective where you’re working in partnership with clients to advise and close a transaction.
Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?
Member and part of the committee of the student law society. Touch Rugby captain of the law society’s team. Member of the student running club, ‘Cool Runnings’.
Were you part of the Exeter Student Ambassador Scheme at any point during your studies?
What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?
A major highlight for me relates to my involvement with the university’s Pathways to Law and Pathways Year 11 schemes. This involved myself and a number of other university students mentoring sixth form pupils interested in law as well as running classroom sessions at local secondary schools and introducing concepts of law. These are schemes co-ordinated by the Sutton Trust and as a previous candidate of these programmes, it was a privilege to support a charity that provided me my first exposure to law and legal services. I felt proud to be awarded Brightside’s Mentor of the Year 2017/2018. This achievement not only reflects my enjoyment of networking and fostering a community spirit, but also how hard the university, especially Kate Blackmore, worked towards social mobility initiatives.
What did you enjoy most about studying here?
The law course provided a reasonable balance between independent study and workshops run by lecturers. Each module’s materials provided essential reading and outcomes to achieve, but there were frequently options to delve deeper if you wished. I also felt comfortable speaking to lecturers if I had queries, whether that be within the timetabled workshops or during their office hours. Beyond the course, I enjoyed developing bonds with the law school staff who were more than happy to lend support towards my career and navigating the application process.
Why did you choose to study at Exeter?
Exeter is a city which is far from my home, has a lot to explore locally and I was extremely impressed with the campus facilities after I attended an open day. The city also has numerous independent venues (Cavern, Firehouse, Hubbox to name only a few) that were frequent hang-out spots for myself and friends during our studies. The law course was also highly ranked and I was more than confident when I was applying that I wanted to become a lawyer.
What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?
1) Interpersonal – Having an outgoing personality and being able to work well in teams is fundamental for whichever area of law you wish to work in. Equally, firms recruiting trainees are looking for future employees. Can the applicant work well with colleagues on a daily basis and are they happy to put the applicant in front of clients?
2) Communication – This isn’t just speaking coherently with others in person, but the ability to draft succinct emails, letters, documents etc. Clients are often looking for answers not essays, so try to be as concise and clear as possible.
3) Take pride in work – Demonstrating attention to detail in work you’ve drafted is a fundamental skill. In addition, take pride in receiving feedback and using it to improve moving forwards.
What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?
1) Firstly, you want to be clear in your motivation for a career in law. Have you considered what practice areas interest you; which location you would like to work; what type/size of firm etc.? One of the best ways to do this is to speak to people that work at the firms you are applying to by reaching out or attending any insight events scheduled. Don’t be scared to network with alumni or other contacts with questions; we’ve been in this position before. Plus, have an open mind. Not every candidate is best suited for top of the range Magic Circle/City law firms etc. and you can have an equally (if not more) successful and rewarding career through other routes.
2) As mentioned above, pursuing a career in law is extremely tough. If this is your genuine ambition, perseverance is a character skill to maintain. The process is extremely competitive and arguably unfair at times. However, control what you can and persevere through any obstacles in your path. If you do receive any rejections, try to find ways to improve or seek feedback to learn from. I would also stress that law firms want to see candidates that are confident in themselves, their skills and what they can offer.
What are your plans for the future?
As of writing I am looking forward to commencing my training contract in the City of London from September 2021. I am hopeful to qualify as a corporate/commercial lawyer. I remain open to wherever my career will take me post-qualification and I hope to take full advantage of all networking opportunities, perhaps with contacts through the wider Exeter alumnus network.