Careers
Created with

Open thread: How to become a City lawyer

By on
63

RPC trainees Umut Bektas and Emily Rome advise

As the 2017-18 graduate recruitment year gets underway, and law firms head out to university campuses across the UK, RPC trainees Umut Bektas and Emily Rome are joining us for the next hour below the line on Legal Cheek.

The duo will be on hand to answer any questions you’d like to ask about becoming a City lawyer, including applications for vac schemes and training contracts, and more general insights about what it’s like to be a trainee solicitor.

Having studied sociology at LSE, Bektas did the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at BPP University Law School before securing a training contract at RPC. He has just started his first seat.

Rome took a similar route, converting to law after completing a classical civilisation and philosophy degree at Nottingham University. She is now a third seat trainee.

Ask them anything you like about City law in the comments section of this article from 1pm, where they will be taking questions until 2pm. Comments are now closed.

Find out more about RPC’s spring and summer vacation schemes.

63 Comments

Anonymous

As a first year just a few weeks in what should I be doing now?

(3)(0)

Umut Bektas

I would get involved in the Law Society and keep an eye out for any first year events such as workshops. We have the RPC Spring Workshop in February – so thats something all first-year law students can get involved in.

(3)(0)

David

What should you be doing in first year

(0)(0)

Emily Rome

Get involved with activities that are put on by your law society and if you have time attend your local court and sit in on some trials. Also look out for RPC’s spring workshop for first year law students in February.

(2)(0)

Replicant

What are the challenges facing commercial law firms and how do you expect the legal profession to evolve in the future?

Thank you for your time 🙂

(3)(0)

Umut Bektas

Currently traditonal law firms are facing competition from alternative providers such as consulting firms (EY Legal and PwC) and therefore firms are trying to evolve to be able to truly offer full service. For example – at RPC we have RPC Consulting and The Centre for Legal Leadership to be able to ensure we do the best for our clients.

(0)(0)

Paul

What should students be doing at law fairs

(0)(0)

Emily Rome

Find out if they offer vacation schemes or just straight training contracts. Also find out about each firm and what it is that appeals to you so you can target your applications to law firms that you are interested in.

(2)(0)

Harry

How much do first year results matter to law firms?

(0)(0)

Umut Bektas

Whilst first year results are really important, law firms look for more than just results from their applicants. Every application always has a mitigating circumstances section that you can include your reasoning for not having the best first year results. Don’t forget that your second and third year results are also extremely important so focus on those if first year didn’t go as planned.

(3)(0)

Becky

How do you think firms view GDL students who are studying part time and working in a law firm part time? How can a candidate with this experience best present themselves?

(0)(0)

Emily Rome

Law firms like candidates who are getting legal experience so working part time in a law firm is great. Make sure you convey in you applications what you are learning through your legal experience and how you are successfully managing your time between your GDL and work.

(2)(0)

Claire Galakhina

I am 38 and studying Law. What advice would you give me to get into Business Law, especially seeing as I am 38? Do mature students have just as many opportunities as younger graduates?

(3)(0)

Umut Bektas

Any graduate at any age can apply for vacation schemes and workshops. At RPC we have trainees from a range of ages. The key part of applying is being able to use the experience you’ve gathered and show how you have developed the skillset needed to succeed in a career in law.

(2)(0)

Claire Galakhina

Thank you for your time.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

How are mature students who have done a legal degree able to access law firms and other university based events in order to stay relevant in the legal field and network with firms?

(2)(0)

Emily Rome

Look out for Law firms events and Legal Cheek events and those targeted to people from non traditional routes to law. Most firms and legal publications are on social media so make sure to follow them too.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

What’s your experience of AI, are you being impacted by it?

(0)(1)

Becky

How much do firms expect you to know about your practice areas of interest at interview?

(0)(0)

Umut Bektas

The interview process at many firms is based on a combination of them getting to know you and you getting to know them. Firms expect you to have solid reasoning for your choice to enter the legal profession and this commonly means having an interest in a certain type of law. However firms are also aware that trainees learn a lot over the course of a TC and therefore we shouldn’t be too closed minded.

(3)(0)

Aaron

What did each of you do on the very first day of your training contract? How did they make you feel welcome? What made you want to come back the next day?

(2)(0)

Emily Rome

RPC have a welcome breakfast for trainees which is a chance for you to meet the trainees in the intake above and then you have introductory sessions to the firm. There is then a lunch with you supervisors which means you can get to know them in an informal session before you go to your desk. People were very friendly and you felt properly inducted before taking to your desk.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

How are Law Firms in the City developing in times of change in the technology industry?

(2)(1)

Emily Rome

There is definitely a move to use more automated processes. The Pyrrho case demonstrated how important predicative coding can be.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Good Afternoon,

I am currently in the process of making a TC application to RPC. What would you say makes the firm stand out from its competitors?

(0)(0)

Umut Bektas

At RPC I would say we have a highly collegiate atmosphere. The open plan office and house system offer a very different experience to many other firms. By having an open plan office I am able to talk to colleagues of all different levels of experience without having the fear of knocking on an office door. The house system is very Harry Potter-esque, we are all sorted into either Reynolds, Porter or Chamberlain where we have inter-house events and entertainment.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Did you know about the House system before starting at RPC? Further how do you find out little details like that?

(0)(0)

Umut Bektas

All of this information is publicly available – when making applications make sure you check out a range of sources. For example for RPC we have the manifesto, which is our own internal marketing material. We also have profiles on sites such as Lawyer2B, Student Chambers and Legal Cheek where these types of details about the firm are available.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

How are you meant to get any law experience if no one is giving you a chance I have completed my llb want to do the lpc

(0)(0)

Emily Rome

Attending local courts to gain experience is very valuable as is spending time with organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau. Law firms don’t require just legal work experience any work experience is valuable as long as you can convey what skills you have learnt.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

What kinds of challenges do you face as a trainee, and how do you tackle them? Thanks!

(0)(0)

Umut Bektas

For me as a first seater its about knowing when to take on work and when to say you’re at capacity. You want to be eager but you dont want to let people down. Also it can be challenging having competing deadlines and managing time appropriately. The environment is a steep learning curve but you do get it quite quickly and it all eventually becomes second nature.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Why did you want to be a commercial lawyer?

(0)(0)

Emily Rome

I am interested in the diverse range of work that commercial law firms offer and how legal work is relevant to almost every business.

It is a fast paced and exciting environment which constantly challenges you and no day is ever the same.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

What does RPC stand for?

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Reynolds Porter Chamberlain

(2)(2)

Emily Rome

The initialism stands for Reynolds Porter Chamberlain

RPC as a firm stands for openness, collaborative working and client service

(3)(3)

Anonymous

Hi Alex, sorry, trainees, what does it take to be a top lawyer? Do you think you’ll bag a position as a rookie lawyer? What wedge will you pocket if you do?

(6)(6)

Toppsy Kretts

What challenges might an in-house trainee in financial services face when moving to private practice?

(3)(0)

Umut Bektas

I’ve never worked in-house but I would imagine you would experience a change in the range of clients you work with. I don’t see any particular challenges you would face moving from one to the other. It’s all about bringing your experience in financial services across with you and applying it. Also the size of the firm would likely be very different – you would move from a legal team to a whole firm of lawyers – all with a range of skills and backgrounds.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

In that you don’t have a range of clients in house, yes.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Is it worth standing for roles like Mistress of the Moots and Law Society President? Or should you focus on your studies instead?

(0)(0)

Emily Rome

Standing for roles such as them will give you great experience and something to talk about in your applications and interviews. Just make sure you mange your time effectively so that you do not neglect your studies.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Are you working on any current commercial issues? If so, what is your involvement?

(0)(0)

Emily Rome

Trainees involvement can be very varied. We are often invited to meetings and conference calls. Drafting witness statements and court documents are other typical tasks. RPC really focuses on using their trainees for legal work not admin.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I understand that firms always want you to look beyond their website; where would you go to find out smaller details about the firm?

(0)(0)

Umut Bektas

There are a range of sources available that tell you details about a firm. Have a look on sites such as Lawyer2B, Student Chambers and Legal Cheek. But it is not just having this information about the firm – it is about showing how your personality applies to these details and demonstrating how you fit the firm and how the firm fits you.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

How has working in the firm increased your commercial awareness?

(1)(0)

Emily Rome

Seeing the issues our clients are facing on a day to day basis and how changes in law or market conditions can effect our clients and their legal needs.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

What’s been the best and worst thing about your TC so far?

(0)(0)

Emily Rome

Best: The level of responsibility and attending client meetings.
Worst: The lifts in our office electrocute you!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Do you just take notes in meetings, or do you get to give advice?

The lifts sound like a health and safety hazard, don’t think I’ll apply!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I am an international student in my third year of my LLB. I have not done any vacation schemes. In your opinion do you think it is too late for me to start applying to these and later a training contract?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

yes.

(0)(4)

Anonymous

No, it definitely isn’t too late. Don’t listen to the comment above.

(0)(1)

Emily Rome

Definitely not too late. Vacation schemes are a great way into a firm and to really get a feel for the type of firm it is. You could always do a combination of training contract and vacation scheme applications.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

What is a good tip for making a good application?

(1)(0)

Umut Bektas

It’s all about researching the firm. No recruiter wants to read a generic answer that could be applied to any firm. It is about getting the finer details about the firm into your application and weaving your personality and experience into the application as well.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Do you have time to have and maintain a hobby?

(0)(0)

Umut Bektas

At RPC we do not have a face time culture – if you’re not needed to do work – you won’t be kept staying late. I am able to regularly socialise with friends on both week nights and weekends and believe many of the other trainees are able to do the same.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Do you think it’s harder for international non-EU students to get training contracts and vac schemes?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Hi, What commercial topics are there most relevant right now, in your opinion? Thank you in advance.

(0)(0)

Umut Bektas

A hot topic at the moment is data protection. The GDPR and Data Protection Bill are due within the next year. The GDPR in particular is set to change the way every single business operates with data. I would read business press and find stories that apply heavily to law firms. Learn how to speak about them and how to truthfully give your opinion on them and the effect they will have on business and the legal profession.

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories