Doing a training contract at a magic circle firm doesn’t mean giving up your passions
Samara Lawrence balances her love of sport with her third seat at Linklaters
“It’s been a challenging but enjoyable experience so far,” says Samara Lawrence, reflecting on the first year of her training contract at leading magic circle law firm Linklaters. “I have received great support from my supervisors and peers, while gaining first-hand exposure to some really exciting areas of work.”
Samara — who studied politics at SOAS, University of London, before going on to complete her Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at The University of Law — thinks this firm-wide support extends well beyond the confines of her day-to-day legal work. She tells Legal Cheek Careers:
“I have always been quite busy at both school and university, undertaking various social and extra-curricular activities. Prior to starting my training contract I was prepared for these to take a back seat. However, thanks to the firm I am pleased to say this hasn’t been the case.”
One passion of Samara’s that the firm is keen to support is tag rugby, a non-contact version of the popular sport in which each player wears shorts with two Velcro tags attached. Instead of tackling, players pull the tags off of their opposing players.
“It’s really big in Australia but has only been over here in the United Kingdom for the past ten years or so,” she explains. “I first started playing socially while at secondary school in Devon. My passion for the mixed-sex sport developed when I moved to London for university. I joined a local league, which I am still a part of, and it went from there. I still get out and play at least once a week.”
Samara has represented Great Britain in tag rugby competitions against Ireland and Australia — something that without Linklaters’ backing may not have been possible. She says: “The firm recognised that tag rugby, and sport more generally, is a big part of my life. Trainees and partners took a genuine interest in my involvement in the sport. Linklaters is incredibly supportive.”
Away from the rugby field, Samara — who is currently in her third seat in the firm’s project finance team — enjoys a competitive game of hockey. “I regularly play for Linklaters’ hockey team. It’s a great way to socialise with colleagues and an opportunity to play lawyers from other City firms,” she continues. Is there any inter-firm rivalry? Not really — “we even sometimes go out for drinks after the match”.
Sport aside, life at Linklaters has already thrown up a number of other interesting opportunities for Lawrence, such as pro bono work. She explains:
“You can do as much as you want to do. Emails get circulated around the office on an almost daily basis with opportunities to help out. I have been working at the Mary Ward Legal Centre, an organisation that provides free, independent advice to people who live and work in London on a range of issues including debt, housing and welfare benefits. I am also currently helping to draft a report that looks into the impact that legal aid cuts are having on asylum applications and immigration appeals.”
Another project close to Samara’s heart is the firm’s Young Women Series, whereby the City outfit invites school-leavers into its London office to attend workshops on gender issues in the workplace. “Linklaters’ lawyers discuss with them a range of important issues including the challenges that they may encounter in a modern working environment, and how they can overcome them. This helps prepare them for future employment and build their confidence,” she tells us.
Samara — who spent time working in a burger restaurant throughout university, a job she said she “loved doing” — is now over half way through her training at Linklaters. It’s an experience that certainly includes scope to receive a good level of responsibility early on in your training. Samara continues:
“You are given matters to run with independently, alongside the normal trainee tasks you expect to be handed on a day-to-day basis. I am currently working on a really exciting deal which should conclude very soon.”
Samara’s experience in all her seats have been so enjoyable, she’s still not sure which department she wants to qualify into. But what was it about Linklaters overall that appealed to Lawrence during her training contract hunt?
“I can only really think back to an open day I attended during my time at university,” she says. “I heard some of their trainees speak and was so impressed by the way they spoke with such confidence about their experience and enjoyment of the work they were doing. Not many firms took a direct interest in SOAS, but Linklaters made a number of campus visits.”
Lawrence adds: “The main thing for me was that that I could see myself being comfortable at the firm. A decision that, over a year on, has turned out to be correct.”
About Legal Cheek Careers posts.