Sep 07, 2020

Written By Billy Sexton, Editor,

Interview with Alex Walker, Trainee at Taylor Wessing

Sep 07, 2020

Written By Billy Sexton, Editor,

Alex Walker is a modern foreign languages graduate and a trainee at international firm Taylor Wessing and is currently undertaking a seat in Employment law. Recommending that budding solicitors undertake a vacation scheme, Alex also details the support system at Taylor Wessing and his first day as a traineeā€¦

Why did you choose to do your training contract at an international law firm?

Working at an international law firm gives you exposure to a large range of clients and deals that may encompass entities across several jurisdictions. Equally, such work requires a lot of teamwork. I wanted to join a firm that could offer me the opportunity to develop the communication skills I had gained from a degree in modern languages. This goes beyond simply speaking the languages; for me the best part of working for an international firm was the chance to collaborate with people from different backgrounds, who might have very different business customs.


What was the first day of your training contract like?

The first day of the training contract was a great experience. It was exciting to know I'd made it to that point nearly three years after my initial application, and reassuring to see the support that Taylor Wessing could offer to new joiners. I don't think I was as nervous as might be expected, but that is likely because the firm had already invited the new cohort of trainees into the office a few times before we started.


Which seat are you currently doing? What do you enjoy most about it?

I'm currently in Employment. I have only been here a month but I have already found that there is a large range of work on offer, and it can be contentious or non-contentious. There's a lot of scope for trainee responsibility too.


What seat are you doing next?

I haven't been allocated my next seat. The experience I have in a corporate support role in Employment will be helpful for the corporate seat that I have to do as part of my training contract.


How are seats chosen at Taylor Wessing?

About a month before seats change, you are asked to submit three ranked preferences for your next seat. The Graduate Development team take into account whether or not you received one of your preferences in your current seat, and if they are unable to match your seat to your preferences this will be taken into account in the next selection.


In your experience, is it important to be fluent in another language when working at an international law firm?

I don't believe it is important to be fluent, but it can certainly help you in terms of relationships with colleagues at other offices, and also with clients that are looking to move into or out of the UK.


What is the support system like at Taylor Wessing? What do you do when you’ve got a problem or are stuck on a project?

Taylor Wessing is a very supportive firm and there are numerous options available if you run into a problem. You can ask anyone if you encounter a problem; Taylor Wessing doesn't have the hierarchical feel of a typical international firm. We also have a great buddy system for new joiners, where you are paired up with a second year trainee who has already done six months in your seat. This gives you the opportunity to ask practical questions about problems that have likely been faced before.


What are some of the things you know now about training contracts that you wish you’d known before applying?

Getting experience on vacation schemes is extremely helpful in working out whether or not a particular firm will be a match for you. When you are sending an application to a firm, it is you being chosen by the firm, with the assumption that you already chose them by making the application. But getting the opportunity to see how the firm actually works is much more valuable to you as an applicant, so if you have the chance to apply for vacation schemes, I'd recommend it.


How do you handle the life-work balance when working at an international law firm?

It takes a certain amount of adjustment to begin a training contract, having spent years studying on more flexible timetables, but I found the LPC helped me prepare for working life. My experience thus far at Taylor Wessing has given me the chance to work on complex matters, but I have still been able to maintain a reasonable life-work balance.


What advice would you give to people currently applying for training contracts at international law firms?

You should be prepared to be flexible in your seat choices. I would advise that while you should not be afraid to exhibit your enthusiasm for particular areas of law, you should balance that with an open-minded attitude. International law firms tend to take a full service approach as to the areas of law on which they can advise clients, and Taylor Wessing is no different in this regard. This gives you a great opportunity to see how a client's business works from different legal perspectives.