From Exeter to Ashurst: How being a campus ambassador helped me secure a prestigious City training contract

Ahead of Ashurst’s campus ambassador application deadline, Rebecca Fenton reflects on what she got out of the role — which the firm offers at 11 unis

Rebecca Fenton, an English Literature student in her final year at Exeter University, was appointed a campus ambassador by Ashurst in June 2016. Rebecca succinctly summarises her role: “It’s to represent and promote Ashurst among students at Exeter, through a range of networking events, promotions and social media channels.”

Although Rebecca is the sole representative of the firm on campus, she and the firm’s nine other ambassadors at universities across the country (the full list of unis can be found here) very much work as part of a team.

“I am one of a five-person alumni team, known as the Exeter Campus Action Team, consisting of a partner, associate, two trainees and myself,” says Rebecca. “We meet and then discuss, over email or phone, Ashurst’s campus strategy. It’s a brilliant way of learning how a law firm works and understanding its ethos. It also gives a great insight into the kind of marketing that every law firm has to do in today’s world.”

In Rebecca’s case, there’s another upside. She’s secured a role as a trainee with Ashurst, starting in September 2019 — having previously, in Easter 2016, spent two days on the firm’s Insight Scheme, which was extended in 2017 to a full week long scheme, Ahead with Ashurst. With the training contract secured, campus ambassadorial duties are serving as a way of bedding into the firm before she arrives. Rebecca explains:

The two Insight days were excellent, and I felt a real kinship with the firm’s culture. It’s highly professional, and yet very friendly, too. By taking on the campus ambassador role I’ve been given advance exposure to my future law firm and colleagues.

So far, so good — but what was it like being a non-law undergraduate and a law firm ambassador? Rebecca’s answer is arguably the blueprint for any undergrad going into law via the conversion route:

I thought about studying law when I was applying to university but had always loved literature and language, so opted for English. Then, in my first year, I decided I’d go into law. I did a week’s work experience with a law firm in August 2015, and then, over the next year and a half, attended various law firms’ Insight days, completed a summer vacation scheme and also worked in-house for a council’s legal department. I was keen to build up as much legal experience as possible, and so also became the General Secretary of Bracton Law Society.

For the uninitiated, Bracton Law Society is Exeter’s largest student society and one of the most active law societies in Britain. Working as its General Secretary, alongside a raft of legal work experience, meant that Rebecca was immersed in the law — no bad thing for anyone heading towards the GDL. In turn, that meant she could fulfil the terms of Ashurst’s brief — conducting market research, promoting events, engaging with relevant bodies, and generally representing the firm in a positive light. Spreading the word, if you like.

As her final year comes to a close, Rebecca has the GDL and LPC ahead. She’s staying in Exeter for the former, then relocating to London for the LPC. She’s not sure what area of law she’d like to practice when she qualifies. “I think it’s a little early yet,” she says, “though I have enjoyed dispute resolution and corporate departments.”

If what kind of lawyer she’ll be is, understandably, uncertain, Rebecca can look back on tangible achievements during her time at Exeter, including something else that law firms look for in prospective candidates — charity fundraising. “A highlight was taking part in the 36-hours-with-no-money challenge,” she says, of the ‘Jailbreak’ challenge, that sees students leave campus in teams of two or three with the objective of getting as far away from Exeter University as possible without spending any money. “Somehow we got to Dusseldorf in Germany, and collectively raised £10,000 for a range of local cancer charities in Exeter.”

Applications for Ashurt’s campus ambassador programme — which is open to law and non-law students at 11 leading universities — close on Sunday 23 April. Find out more here.