Welcome to the second in our series of interviews with existing Teacher Stern trainees to give you a real insight into life as a trainee with us!
If you are interested in applying for a training contract with Teacher Stern then we recommended you apply for our Vacation Scheme Programme. Participation on the programme will not only give you the opportunity to come and meet us in person, but it will enable you to get an inside look at what it would be like to train and work at Teacher Stern.
Department: Corporate and Commercial
Time in role: 3 months
What was your first week like at Teacher Stern?
Before starting my training contract I joined Teacher Stern as a paralegal in the Banking and Finance department. I had no experience of this area at all, not having studied it at law school, and I had never had a job in a law firm before. Everyone at Teacher Stern was extremely helpful and that made a big difference.
What work do you get involved in on a day-to-day basis?
The work of a trainee is varied and very often reactive. You will often pick up small tasks that need completing at short notice from various senior fee earners. This is just a reality of training in a commercial law firm.
At Teacher Stern people are very keen to explain the context of a task and how it fits in with the broader deal. They also encourage trainees to become involved with transactions early and to be proactive. For example, I have had the opportunity to draft commercial property sale and purchase contracts and complex letters before action from scratch (with supervision). Having spoken to friends training with other law firms, not everyone has had this experience.
What have you enjoyed the most?
I remember when I was looking at law firms to apply to that “opportunities for partner contact” were often presented as a unique selling point. I find this slightly baffling in retrospect.
In my first seat at Teacher Stern, I sat with the head of the commercial property department who is also a managing partner. In my second seat, I sat with the head of commercial litigation who has over forty years of experience and regularly leads high value litigation cases. In those seats, you essentially become the first person to which a very experienced lawyer turns for research, attendance notes and various urgent tasks. The expectation placed upon you can be considerable but the support you receive will be invaluable and you will be amazed how much you learn and how quickly you do so.
Have you encountered any challenges?
There are new challenges and tasks I haven’t undertaken before every week (and every day when it’s busier). It’s important to ask questions.
What advice would you give new applicants?
There is no mould you have to fit and everyone applying has good academics. So, just be yourself and be confident about it – that is your chance to be different.
How did your experience of the vacation scheme give you an insight into working at Teacher Stern and within a law firm?
There is never really enough time on a vacation scheme to get a full picture of what working at a law firm day-to-day will be like. What you can do is get a feel for the environment. On my vacation scheme, I was impressed by how welcoming everyone was that week including how much of an active interest senior partners took in applicants.
What are the key benefits of doing a trainee scheme?
Take the opportunity to decide if the firm feels right to you – as competitive as applications are, you should find a firm where you will be happy to work because you will be spending at least two years there.
Missed the previous interview with Luke? Click here to read his interview.
Applications for our next Vacation Scheme Programme close on 30 April. If you are interested in applying, or want to find out more, please click here.