The life of a trainee solicitor: Manchester edition

With strong ties to corporate and private equity scenes, and positioned as a thriving northern city, Manchester is one of the most exciting legal hubs in the UK. We spoke to Mohsin Patel, trainee solicitor at Squire Patton Boggs, about his experience working at the firm’s Manchester office.

  • Last updated Jul 20, 2018 12:52:47 PM
  • Becky Kells, Editor, AllAboutLaw
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What seat of your training contract are you currently in, and how long have you got left of your training contract?
I started in September 2017 and I am currently halfway through my third seat. I’m currently in the Corporate department, and I will qualify in September 2019.

What have been some of the highlights of your training contract so far?
In my current seat, I am working on a couple of really exciting deals that aren’t yet public and having exposure to those has been really good – particularly because I am the only trainee in corporate. Getting to see into the heart of these deals has been particularly exciting. We have a strong private equity practice – I’ve enjoyed working on and learning about the intricacies of a private equity deal. Another highlight was in one of my previous seats – litigation. I was the only trainee on an important case, Manchester Building Society v. Grant Thornton. It was a five-week commercial court trial, which I attended in full, taking on a client-facing role every day. Being involved with this along with a senior associate and a partner was a really rewarding experience.

Did you find that being the only trainee in that case meant you had a lot more responsibility?
Definitely – because I was working closely with much more senior people than myself, I was given a lot to handle and a lot of trust was instilled in me. Getting that level of exposure was excellent – it’s the sort of experience that really defines a training contract. I was able to learn some really valuable skills; interacting with clients and liaising with barristers on elements of the case.

Which seat have you enjoyed the most?
I’ve genuinely enjoyed all of the seats that I have done in different ways. The key is that you learn different things from each seat. Litigation gave me exposure to contentious matters, while a seat in environmental, safety & health brought some exciting and interesting advisory and contentious work. Then I have my current seat in corporate, which is transactional in nature – I’m currently learning the details of deals and working on various deals at different stages, as well as learning to help clients with any issues that spring up along the way. Each seat has offered me a different learning experience and, as a trainee, I think the key is to be able to get that exposure and learn those skills. Whichever department you qualify into, you will always take those skills with you.

Life at Squire Patton Boggs

What’s the support system like in your current seat - is it easy to develop a working relationship with partners, associates and fellow trainees?
In terms of the support system, you have an associate supervisor who acts as your daily supervisor (and with whom you are likely to share an office) and a partner supervisor, who oversees things and ensures that you get the exposure that you want. Supervisors are always on hand to answer specific legal questions or anything more general – they are an experienced mentor that you can turn to, and that is invaluable. If you have a particular problem, it’s good to have someone on hand who can help you through that, or advise you of the best course of action. Squire Patton Boggs is really good at fostering working relationships – there is no sense of hierarchy at all, which means that everyone is very approachable, regardless of job title!

In what ways do you get to socialise with other trainees in your intake?
The Manchester office usually recruits four or five trainees a year, so we have found it quite easy to make informal arrangements to meet, as well as attend formal events together. We have junior networking events, too, which is a good chance to catch up with all of the junior lawyers.

How do you manage and prioritise your workload?
The key is to get a sense of which matters are the most urgent, which in turn comes down to communication with the people you are working for. If it becomes necessary to prioritise a task above others, it is essential to talk to the other people – if I’ve got three tasks to do for three different people, and something with an imminent deadline comes in, I then would go and speak to those people and explain the urgency of the new piece of work, and ask if we can shift the deadlines. It’s also important to stay on top of all tasks so nothing slips through the net!

Working in Manchester 

Are there any elements to training in Manchester that you would not have experienced elsewhere?
Manchester is very active as a corporate hub, with lots of local clients. However, this isn’t exclusively the case: we do a lot of international and cross-office work, too. There’s also a very strong private equity scene in Manchester – it is widely recognised as the strongest in Europe after London.
More generally, the smaller trainee intake in Manchester means that I get a lot more exposure to the work than I would if the intake was larger. That is a very important element for me as it means I get to work on more things (with appropriate supervision!).

What kind of things do you like to do in Manchester?
Manchester is a very active, vibrant place – there are a plethora of places to go out for lunch or after work, with strong restaurant and theatre scenes. For example, I was in the city at the weekend watching The Play that Goes Wrong with my wife. Lots of people refer to Manchester as a mini-London and I think that this is fairly accurate.

Can you sum up the city in three words?
Vibrant, diverse and authentic.

As a trainee lawyer, do you find that there are a lot of other young professionals working in the city?
Yes! There are lots of other law firms, larger and also smaller regional firms, as well as lots of other sectors, for example, accountancy and corporate finance firms. In short, Manchester has pretty much every type of professional services, each of which has a lot of young professionals working for them. Many of these are literally located close to our office. We often meet up at various networking events, and Squire Patton Boggs holds a lot of events here.

 

You can find more about Squire Patton Boggs and the opportunities on offer at the firm by visiting the firm’s profile and website.

Interested in working in Manchester? Visit AllAboutLaw's Manchester Regional Hub.  

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