Fabienne is a future trainee solicitor at BLM LLP. She is currently a paralegal at Epiq. She studied law at Kent University and is a former ComAware writer.

1. Tell us about yourself

After completing my law degree, I went on to do the LPC at the University of Law in Moorgate without having first secured a training contract. I had been invited to attend several law firm assessment centres before this, which made the prospect of self-funding the LPC less risky. I knew that with persistence I would obtain a training contract at the right firm for me.

I now have a 2-year gap until I start my training contract in September 2023. Alongside my full-time job as a paralegal, I have decided to pursue a Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training. Weightlifting has been a passion of mine for the past 3 years and I decided that there was no better time to do this than now. I also hope to spend some time travelling before starting my training contract.

Other interests of mine include reading non-fiction and listening to podcasts, mostly about nutrition, psychology, and neuroscience.

2. What attracted you to BLM?

I knew that I wanted to be a litigator from the get-go. I think that this is because I enjoyed reading case law at university and find our common law legal system fascinating. Equally as much, I knew that I wanted to work in the City and for commercial clients. When I was researching different law firms, these two factors were at the forefront of my decision to apply. BLM matched these criteria perfectly. Trainees at BLM typically undertake three contentious seats, which differs from other large City law firms, where there is a greater focus on transactional work.

I also knew that I wanted to work somewhere with a healthy work-life balance and a collaborative culture. When I attended my assessment centre at BLM’s London office, I could not believe how friendly the Partners were. This was reflected further during the vacation scheme.

3. How did you make yourself stand out from the crowd during your vacation scheme?

I think the key factor in my success on the vacation scheme was my ability to take initiative and actively make effort to get the most out of it as possible. For example, on the first day, I had a look at my timetable and realised that there were no activities or talks surrounding my main area of interest, which is professional indemnity.

On the second day of the vacation scheme, I reached out to a trainee I had spoken to previously as they had mentioned doing a seat in this department. I was keen to learn more about the work and it showed. This conversation with the trainee led to a Partner talk being organised in which other candidates on the scheme could participate.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to trainees and lawyers in the firm outside of your timetabled sessions. Remember that vacation schemes are a two-way street and that you should be doing everything that you can to understand if this is the right firm for you!

4. What did you enjoy most about your vacation scheme?

I really enjoyed the litigation training sessions that we had. Having already studied Civil Litigation on the LPC, I found it useful to refresh my memory on the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR). I also gained a better understanding of the steps to be taken when acting on behalf of the defendant in fast-track claims (this is the nature of most of the work done at BLM).

5. How did your extracurricular activities help during your training contract application?

Extracurricular activities are crucial to attaining a training contract. If you are at university, I would encourage getting involved in any competitions or pro bono. This will give you more to talk about in your applications and at interviews. We all know how difficult obtaining legal work experience can be, and so extracurriculars are a fantastic alternative way to demonstrate your interest in certain areas of law.

I would also say don’t be afraid to talk about your interests outside of law. I often included my weightlifting personal records in application forms (where I saw fit) to demonstrate transferable skills like resilience and a growth mindset. At the end of the day, law firms want to hire an individual and are interested in getting to know your hobbies and non-academic achievements too!

6. What are your top tips for prospective applicants?

Narrowing down which law firms to apply to can seem impossible if you haven’t got a good understanding of the type of firm you’d like to work for. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you think that you’d prefer litigation work or transactional work?
  • Would you like most of your clients to be businesses or individuals?
  • Are there any sectors that take your interest?
  • Consider work/life balance.

From the outset, these can be quite difficult to answer. I found that attending as many law firm open days as possible helped me with this. Think of it like dating. You’ll leave some firms feeling like you never want to see them again, others that you feel indifferent about, and a few that you will have that immediate spark with.

7. Would you rather have a pause or a rewind button in your life?

I would rather have a pause button. If you’ve seen the film ‘The Butterfly Effect’ or have heard of the concept, you’d probably agree with me on this one!

As cliche as it sounds, I do believe that all our experiences mould us into who we are. Whilst I have made mistakes, I always learned from them, and I don’t think I’d be the same person I am today without them.

Aside from that, I don’t think many of us are present enough. I am big on practising gratitude and would appreciate a pause button to take in and appreciate some moments of my life!