Nov 02, 2022

Written By Womble Bond Dickinson

The O Shaped Lawyer: The NQ’s Perspective

Nov 02, 2022

Written By Womble Bond Dickinson

Womble Bond Dickinson’s focus on developing O-shaped lawyers does not stop once a trainee has qualified. The firm’s commitment to developing lawyers with the skills and competencies required for the future of the legal profession continues throughout a solicitor’s career with the firm. We spoke to Will Hall, an NQ solicitor in Womble Bond Dickinson’s Digital team, working from the firm’s Bristol office, to find out more about his experiences of training and development since qualifying.

From your perspective, why is the idea of the O-shaped lawyer important for your future career?

As legal professionals we have tunnel vision in our mind about career development, legal skills and our legal knowledge, especially at such a junior age. When I was opened up to the world of the 'O-shaped lawyer' it helped me understand that there is more to my professional development than just knowing the difference between a warranty and an indemnity!

I think, at this stage in my career, my main focus is developing the foundation of legal knowledge to build on throughout my career. As this develops all the Os will come into focus and it is never too early to start developing them. I think to be a good partner in a law firm you need to be competent in all five ‘Os', so it is good to build on these today to become a partner of the firm tomorrow.

As a trainee, were there any development courses you took that especially stick out in your mind as useful and interesting in terms of changing how you approach your work?

Complete honesty, no, I don't think there were! I think on-the-job learning has been more beneficial and having a good relationship with my team, with the opportunity to reflect and develop with them, has helped me develop and approach my work differently.

How does the New Solicitor Workshop build on this and what have you learnt / found particularly helpful about it?

Ultimately, on-the-job learning has been more beneficial to me. However, this course did provide an outline of what to expect in the next stage of my career and some initial guidance of how to approach my future as the daunting 'solicitor' tag is on my email signature now.

How does it feel to be an NQ at a firm that seems to go the extra mile when it comes to career development? Is this something you see across the industry or is it quite unique to WBD?

While I have no experience of the career development opportunities at other law firms, I can say, from my own experience, that Womble Bond Dickinson does seem to be invested in its employees in my team.

For juniors, there is now a plan for the first three PQE levels, with separate qualifications/courses to be undertaken each year to develop and grow as an individual but also become an asset for the team/firm.

It is nice to know that the firm is investing in me and I don't know many lawyer friends who are invested in such ways with career development plans.


Now qualified, do you see yourself as an O-shaped lawyer? If so, why?

No, not yet. Do I see the benefits of the O-shaped lawyer? Yes, I do and they are certainly skills that I know I need to develop going forward. While I haven't developed all the skills yet, I would say three out of the five have been relevant to me to date; that being the: ‘make and take opportunities’, ‘be optimistic’, and ‘take ownership’ Os.


O Shaped Lawyer