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Inside track: Completing a training contract at a global law firm

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Ahead of Wednesday’s virtual student event with Ashurst, Legal Cheek Careers speaks to trainee solicitor and panellist Asha Owen-Adams

Legal Cheek is hosting a virtual student event this Wednesday in partnership with global law firm Ashurst.

To give attendees a flavour of what to expect at the event, we sat down with panellist and current third seat trainee solicitor, Asha Owen-Adams, to discuss how she’s finding the journey to qualification so far. Check out our Q&A with Owen-Adams below and don’t forget you can still apply to attend the event.

Can you tell me about your journey to Ashurst?

I went to the University of Manchester and studied law with politics. After this, I worked as a risk management paralegal at another City law firm, before completing the Legal Practice Course. I first became interested in the law when I was in secondary school. I was interested in current affairs, but did not want to go into politics, and thought it was interesting how the law impacts society and vis-a-versa. I also enjoy problem solving and looking at things analytically.

I commenced my training contract in September 2021. My seats have been disputes — international arbitration, global markets — debt capital markets, and now disputes — contentious financial services.

You’re currently in your third seat in dispute resolution, which I note is now your second time in this department during your training contract. What interests you about disputes work?

Disputes is about resolving a conflict between parties, so you are assisting the client at a challenging time. I like working on cases and coming up with solutions to support the client’s case.

I enjoy the fact that in disputes you have time to get stuck into a case and help at different stages. I have found it very interesting and varied helping to prepare for trials, hearings and investigations through various tasks such as creating hearing/investigation bundles, document review, drafting and research tasks.

What is the most interesting disputes case you have worked on so far?

I have particularly enjoyed working on some interesting investigations. I cannot go into too much detail for confidentiality reasons!

We have seen e-document review and predictive coding used in preparation for litigation. How do you see legal technology impacting dispute resolution in the future?

I think legal technology will continue to make processes easier and more efficient, and cut down the amount of time lawyers spend on some more administrative tasks.

Applications for Ashurst's Summer Vacation Scheme 2023 are now open and close on 6 January 2023

Recent widespread social movements, most notably Black Lives Matter, have shone a brighter light on racial inequality in the workplace. Asha, as a young black trainee City lawyer, what advice do you have for aspiring lawyers from minority ethnic backgrounds?

I think although it is very challenging, I would recommend going to different events and making those connections and contacts wherever you can. I think building a network is important at every stage of your career, but as an aspiring lawyer, speaking to people and learning from them and their experiences is important. There are so many people who are willing to help aspiring lawyers and give advice.

Furthermore, lots of people struggle with imposter syndrome, but I feel this can be even more prevalent when trying to enter the legal profession from a minority background, so having/finding tactics to work to overcome that imposter syndrome is vital.

You’re a qualified mental health first aider. How is the firm supporting the wellbeing of its trainee and junior lawyers?

We have a Wellbeing Allies and a Wellbeing Hub, which provides various useful resources. Ashurst also has several networks (including Women’s, Social mobility and Race equality networks). I think these networks are important as they provide support and allies across the firm, fostering a culture of inclusion.

By training mental health first aiders, there are also people dotted throughout the firm that people can go to. The firm also has a collaborative and approachable culture, which I also think really helps to support wellbeing.

Broadly speaking, what are your top tips for students looking to secure training contracts at Ashurst?

As mentioned earlier, attending events and speaking to people from Ashurst is really helpful to get a feel for the firm, and it means students can talk about these experiences in applications/interviews. It is also imperative to do your research of the firm.

Even if students have not had any legal experience, it is important to draw on the experiences you have already had whether that be in sports societies or doing part-time jobs, because those activities develop essential skills — many of the same skills that the firm expects from a trainee. It is all about tailoring your application to make it clear why you would be a great fit for Ashurst, and showing off your skills. Finally, never put anything in your application that you would not be confident talking about in an interview — you do not want to be caught out!

Asha Owen-Adams will be speaking at ‘Life inside a full-service global law firm — with Ashurst’, a virtual student event taking place on Wednesday 26 October. You can apply to attend the event, which is free, now.

Applications for Ashurst's Summer Vacation Scheme 2023 are now open and close on 6 January 2023

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