Storme Paul-Christian

Trainee

Overview

Travers Smith fast facts:

Name: Storme Paul-Christian

University: BPP University

Degree and subject: LLB Law

Current department: Finance

Previous departments: Commercial; Corporate M&A and ECM

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/asetspc/

Storme Paul-Christian is in the third seat of her training contract with Travers Smith. Here she shares the benefits and challenges of joining the Firm from a different career.

"I'm an absolute nerd, so first and foremost I like the intellectual challenge of my role at Travers Smith, especially when I am working on complex matters and have to research and justify a reasonable position our client can take. I enjoy working through the possibilities and then discussing them with associates and partners. I also like the pace of the work, negotiating documents with counsels, and the relationship-building aspect of the role where you can get to know your clients and understand their businesses. No two days are the same and there is always something new to learn.

One of the great things about being a trainee solicitor is that you develop a network and can leverage that to assist and help others. This could involve attending events and speaking to students, helping individuals to gain access to professional opportunities and insights that might otherwise be closed to them, or advocating and generating awareness and support for organisations that are doing great community-focused work. It's a position that offers scope to have an impact beyond just the law. And, of course, there's the money (it's ok to admit that after you have got the job!)

My Travers Smith Journey

As a career changer, I had the advantage of already knowing the kind of environment I like to work in and a strong understanding of how I learn and work best. I wanted to train at a firm that I felt would value the skills and experience I had already acquired, that had a practical and structured approach to training and development, and that fostered a collaborative culture among its people. I got a taste of this during my vacation scheme at Travers Smith in 2018. All the vacation scheme activities were thoughtfully curated to allow the candidates to develop both a practical and theoretical understanding of how the Firm approaches its practice to law. Within the departments I sat in, all the work I was asked to do contributed directly to live workstreams. The socials were attended by trainees, associates and partners, and the people I spoke to were as much interested in me as an individual as they were in assessing my ability as a candidate. My experience was enjoyable and since starting my training contract the Firm continues to have a person-centred culture that provides the right environment to train and develop their lawyers.

I studied the LLB part time for five years while working full time. The two most useful skills I developed from my LLB were how to use resources like Westlaw and LexisNexis to conduct research and then summarise this breadth of information into an easily digestible format and how to organise my time to be able to meet both my academic and work deadlines. As a trainee you will often find that you have competing priorities and having strategies to manage your time and workload is a critical skill.

My Typical Day

As a trainee, I do not have a typical day, and I am often doing something for the first time. There are several tasks that trainee’s do no matter what seat you are in. Typically, I will go through my inbox and filter my emails into tasks I need to do that day. Then I check in with my supervising associates to update them on where I am with any work I have been delegated and see if any of the work priorities have changed. I have drafted documents, undertaken due diligence exercises, conducted legal research on a specific question or point of law, liaised with external English and foreign counsel, led on the negotiation of NDAs, communicated with clients by email and phone, attended meetings and taken the call notes, made Companies House filings, prepared document bibles at the end of a transaction, and project managed the verification process on IPOs. On the non-work side, I have attended graduate recruitment events, participated in legal pro-bono clinics, attended internal D&I network meetings, and volunteered with one of the Firm's CSR programme partners.

I faced two main challenges during my training contract. The first was restarting in a new career as a junior team member without autonomy over my own time and work. The second was that I had the expectation that I should be performing at and producing work to a much higher standard than I was. Those expectations were neither reasonable, nor realistic for a job I had never done before. I spoke to a senior associate mentor who had also been a career changer when she joined the Firm. It was helpful to have my experience validated by someone who had had the same experience, and she encouraged me to openly discuss my concerns with my supervising partner. That was useful because I was reassured that I was performing to a high standard and it opened a dialogue between me and my room team that meant I was given stretch tasks, as well as extra support on tasks I found more difficult. Mostly it helped to be reminded that I am a trainee, the learning curve is steep, and that I was doing just fine.

Outside of work I love going to the theatre, live gigs and festivals! Anything with music and ambience is my favourite thing to do, add some good street food and it's a perfect way to break up or shake off a long week. I'm also a TV binger, avid reader and I enjoy exploring the city with my nieces and nephews, dining out, or doing something a little off the beaten path.

Travers Smith’s Culture

At Travers Smith, there is a strong emphasis on collaboration and communication that is fostered by the room-sharing system. The people you work with recognise that you are a trainee and offer a lot of support and encouragement, especially when you're finding your legs as a first seater and when you change departments. At the same time, there is an unstated expectation that being a Travers Smith trainee means you have the potential to hit the ground running and there is ample opportunity to take on more challenging responsibilities with the guidance of your supervising associates/partner. The Firm is also quite sociable with the trainees having their own cohort wide Group chats, and regular socials within each department and Firmwide. There is a flat hierarchy, so it is not unusual to see a mixed group of trainees, associates, and partners out for drinks.

The Firm has a strong culture based around community and giving and this is built into the training contract from day one.  All the trainees rotate participation in the General Legal Advice Clinic advising on a range of "non-specialist" issues, including consumer rights, small claims, debt and tenancy. This assists those who would not otherwise be able to gain access to legal advice. You can take on as much pro bono work as your workload allows and involvement is always encouraged. There are a variety of programmes to get involved in and if you are particularly passionate about a cause you can discuss it with the Firm's Head of Pro bono, Sam Cottman.

My Top Tips for Applicants

  • Understand what the role of a trainee solicitor entails. The tasks and activities you do daily are going to be different to that of the qualified solicitors you work with, and it is helpful to recognise the distinction so that you can tailor your application.

  • Think about how you like to work and how you learn. Choose firms with training structures and cultures that most closely reflect your learning and development style.

  • It is difficult to differentiate between firms that, from the outside, all seem to do similar work with similar clients. Spend as much time as you can talking to people (lawyers and business support staff) at the firms you are interested in. It tends to be a good sign when people offer up similar sentiments about a Firm without regurgitating the marketing spiel word for word."

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