Emad is a trainee solicitor at Pinsent Masons LLP. He studied French and History at Queen Mary University.
1. Tell us about yourself
Hi, my name is Emad and I am half French and half Iranian and was born in London. I studied French and History at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), which included an ERASMUS year in Paris studying at the Sorbonne, before completing a 2 year accelerated LLB course for graduates, also at QMUL. I started my Training Contract at Pinsent Masons in 2020 having undertaken the summer vacation scheme in 2018, and I have just completed my first seat at the firm which was in Property. I am now in a Litigation seat, focused specifically on the Energy Sector.
2. Why did you choose Pinsent Masons?
I chose to apply to Pinsent Masons (PM) for several reasons. Firstly, the firm’s strength in its 5 key sectors were appealing. I take a great interest in the Energy sector and the firm’s strength in this area was very attractive, but also knowing that I could have a varied training contract in other sectors and learn from leaders in their field was a great opportunity. A second reason, was the training offered by the firm. As a result of its strengths in its key sectors, the firm attracts impressive multi-national clients and therefore fascinating, international and complex work, which as PM trainees, we get great exposure to as well as responsibility from the start, due to the smaller trainee intake. A third reason, was the environment that I would be working in at PM. I believe our three main values are approachability, boldness and being connected, and I found during my vacation scheme, and now during my Training Contract, that these resonate throughout people at the firm, offering a great collaborative support network in which trainees can develop in.
3. How did your previous paralegal work experience help you during the training contract application?
I think my paralegal and general work experiences in law prior to my Training Contract were important as they: a) acted as tools to demonstrate my desire to work in law and b) highlighted which areas of law I was keen to learn more about or even avoid!
What I mean by this is that firstly, work experiences can highlight to you what areas of law you are/are not interested in, which can help you narrow down your selection of firms that you apply for, focusing on those that offer the work that attracts you to commercial law. Secondly, firms understandably want to see that you have gone out of your way to try and gain any legal experience available to you, and just by acquiring some not only demonstrates your desire to work in the legal field, but also shows on your application your determination to obtain work despite the potential hurdles. Thirdly, being in an office (or virtually these days) will provide you with an idea of a typical day, the responsibilities you will have, the skills you will need and how you can manage a variety of situations. All of these will help you acquire experience that can be invaluable to mention in your applications, and eventually when you get your foot in the door of a firm, in interviews, vacation schemes and finally the Training contract itself.
4. Talk us through your typical day
I don’t think any two days are the same as it will depend on the case/matter’s progression, especially when you’re working to a deadline which is highly likely. I normally start my day by reading through my emails and making a to-do-list of work that needs completing. Due to the nature of the work, things will be added to your list as the day goes on as new matters come in, therefore time management plays a key factor here. Also, knowing how to prioritise certain work is critical in order to keep on schedule and not disappoint those you are working for.
I spend the day going through my list, calling/emailing my supervisors should I have any questions or to confirm my understanding of certain aspects. On days of completion, things ramp up and making sure everything is done on time and accurate is critical. At the end of the day I’ll take a note of what I was able to complete on my to-do-list and analyse what I did correctly, and also why I wasn’t able to finish any tasks that I hadn’t. I then prioritise what is left on the list so I know where to begin in the morning.
5. What do you enjoy most about your role?
Learning. Everyday that you are doing new work, or even work you’ve done before, you are learning something new or understanding how to better your previous work. Furthermore, at a law firm you are not only discovering the law but also the commercial aspects that affect your clients and looking for different, maybe innovative, ways to help them, all of which brings fascinating new knowledge.
6. What are your top tips for prospective applicants?
Having gone through a few application rounds I feel the ones where I have been most successful, ie have obtained most interviews, vacation schemes and eventually the Training contract, would be cycles where I tailored and applied for only a select few firms. Tailoring your applications may seem a piece of advice that you’ve heard before, however if you ever feel that you can remove the name of the firm on your application and replace it with another law firm and the application sounds the same, then it is likely that you haven’t tailored your application enough. By this I mean doing your research on the firm; what are its key sectors, how large is the trainee intake, what previous cases has it been involved in, does it offer international secondments, where are its offices, have you spoken to people that work at the firm to confirm what the ‘culture’ is like? You are looking for things that make a firm stand out even though so many share many similarities, but it is those niche differences, and the highlighting of them in your application, that will also make you stand out.
Another tip would be to get over the fear you may have of showing off your qualities that make you a great candidate. It can sometimes seem hard to highlight your skills or maybe you feel embarrassed to do so, but it is important to link what you have researched on the firm with your qualities so you can prove to the firm that you are a perfect match for them. The firm prides itself on its diversity? Highlight a time you championed diversity at school/uni/at the workplace etc. The firm does a lot of international work, or offers international secondments? Write down that you speak a couple of languages, or have lived abroad and can adapt to cultures. The firm does a lot of pro bono work in an area that means a lot to you? Write about your volunteering experiences in a similar area. The firm offers a lot responsibility to its trainees? Give examples of when you thrived on it in education, sport, volunteering etc. Try and find common ground and really underline what you can offer each other.
7. Wildcard: If you could go to any country (that you haven’t been to) where would you go and why
I think we are all desperate to get back to travelling as soon as we can! I’ve been fortunate to travel to a few countries in the past, but I would love to return to South America soon, perhaps Peru, or back to the Middle East. It’s a tough one, the Middle East and South America are my favourite regions due to their rich culture, history and languages, so any trips there would be amazing!