From vacation scheme to NQ solicitor

Rob Hobson made a late decision to go into law, but he’s just about to start life as a Mayer Brown lawyer

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The people were great — really helpful and welcoming. They took time out to get to know me, at whatever level they were, from trainees and associates to partners. It was an excellent working environment, offering top quality work and plenty of social events. I knew that if I was offered a training contract, I’d take it.

So says Rob Hobson, 26, of his experience on Mayer Brown’s spring vacation scheme. Rob spent two weeks with the City heavyweights in April 2013, with his first week in corporate & securities and his second in insurance & reinsurance. At the end of the second week, he was interviewed by two partners, with a trainee place up for grabs. Rob bagged it, and now, in just two months, he will complete his two years as a trainee and start settling into life as a newly qualified solicitor with the firm.

“I’ll be working in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution (LDR) group,” says Rob. “Working here as a trainee proved to be every bit as rewarding as I’d hoped from my experience on the vacation scheme, and I’m looking forward to it. I enjoy cross-border work, and hopefully there will be plenty of it on my desk.”

Rob has a particular reason for gravitating to cross-border matters: he’s a linguist, with a first class honours degree in History and German from Southampton University. “I hope to be able to make use of my German,” he says — and given that he spent a year teaching English in Germany, in the northern Bavarian town of Würzburg, chances are that his skills will soon be put to use.

“I really enjoyed my year in Germany,” continues Rob, who worked at a grammar school for 12 hours a week, leaving enough time for sport, completing his 5,000-word course project (on the renovation of Würzburg, which was badly bombed in the Second World War) and generally immersing himself in German life. Already a keen cricketer, who enjoys other sports such as rugby, football and swimming, Rob took up basketball while in Germany. “It’s a great game, but I’m 5”11’ — a bit small for a basketball player!” he says.

But Rob’s willingness to muck in, try new things and expand his experience has been key to his success. And it’s ensured that a young man who only decided that he wanted to go into law in the final year of his first degree has ended up at an international outfit of the calibre of Mayer Brown.

Born and bred in Bromley, Rob attended the London Oratory School and did well in his A-levels, emerging with an A in German, two Bs in History and Maths, and A at AS level in Art. Attending law fairs prompted his decision to plump for law, and a year at the College of Law to complete the GDL followed. Then came the LPC at Kaplan Law School, by which time Rob — aware that his CV lacked work experience in the law — had completed a winter workshop with a magic circle firm. Says Rob:

I also made sure that I did some pro bono work during this phase, working with Street Law to prepare pupils at a school for a mock trial and then hosting it. It was important to demonstrate a commitment to legal work.

Moreover, to show his commercial nous, Rob also completed the FTSE 100 Student Investor Challenge. “You invest virtual money in stocks and shares,” explains Rob. “It’s a great way of learning about how the City works.” That, and paying “really close attention to my applications” — “fine-tuning and tailoring them as carefully as possible” — were what caught Mayer Brown’s eye, and Rob would advise any would-be lawyers to follow suit: “You need to stand out from the crowd. So many people have very good academic results. It’s about showing that you have more to offer than just sound academics.”

And as Rob’s training contract comes to a close, he reveals that he and Jessica Walker, his current supervisor at Mayer Brown, have something in common:

Despite growing up in south-east London I’m a Sunderland fan, because my great-grandfather played for them. It turns out that Jessica’s grandfather was also a professional footballer. He played for Aston Villa — in fact, he’s Billy Walker, the club’s top goal-scorer. He scored a total of 244 goals between 1919 and 1933, in 531 games.

That’s some achievement — and in today’s ever more competitive world, so is Rob’s in beating the opposition to a job at Mayer Brown despite a late decision to go into the law.

Applications for Mayer Brown’s vacation scheme close on 31 January. You can find out more here.

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