I chose Penningtons Manches Cooper on the basis of its reputation and have not been disappointed.
Find out what our trainee lawyers think of life at Penningtons Manches Cooper and why they decided to join us.
I started my legal career as a paralegal at the firm, a position I held for a year before I applied for a training contract. As a paralegal, I worked directly under the supervision of a partner in my team and so I had exposure to a high quality standard of work from the very start of my career. I understood early on that there is no particular hierarchy at the firm as all partners and senior lawyers are very approachable and understand that being a paralegal or trainee is a learning curve. This was something that made being a junior member of staff feel a bit less daunting and helped me progress within my team.
Law was a career path that I had never initially considered, due to having no close connection to anyone in the profession. However, whilst at college, I found that I really enjoyed learning about the contentious side of law, which was something that really attracted me in terms of a potential career. I have always had an interest in sailing and water sports, so when I was deciding which area of law to pursue as a speciality, maritime law seemed to me an obvious choice given it was something I was familiar with and already enjoyed. The firm has such a wide range of specialisms that it was easy to find a niche suited to me.
I am from Oxford, but won a tennis scholarship to study in America. My degree was in criminal justice and I studied in California for one year before transferring and completing my degree at Washington State University. I have wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was young, but my tennis training took up a large amount of my time. Going to study in America gave me a chance to continue playing tennis as well as begin my path to becoming a lawyer. I chose my degree as it was the closest course to a law undergraduate degree in California at the time (aptly named pre-law!) and gave me a solid grounding in the American criminal justice system.
The firm is very dedicated to providing trainees with a stellar training experience from start to finish, with the aim of encouraging them to become its future partners. Colleagues in all teams have adapted well to the pandemic and working from home, and systems have been put in place to ensure that this year’s trainees continue to get the same experience as they would have done pre-coronavirus. Trainees are always encouraged to attend the informative training sessions geared to expanding their knowledge in their relevant seat. The knowledge team has been amazing at organising various briefings which have been very helpful.
I was interviewed by John Doherty, a partner in the commercial dispute resolution team. He was thoroughly approachable and the interview consisted of competency-based questions combined with a focus on getting to know me, my interests and what I could bring to the firm, rather than a rigid set of tick box questions. An interview is a two-way process and I came out of the meeting thinking I could work well with John and the other partners due to their experience and open manner. When I had my first seat in commercial dispute resolution, John instantly recognised me and was very welcoming, making me feel comfortable within the team.
On my first day in my third seat, I was asked to draft a letter of claim that required me to be familiar with the case at hand, including medical records, witness statements and expert reports. I have attended conferences with counsel and inquest hearings, initial meetings with potential clients and have compiled statements of case. I am mentored by Emily, a senior associate based in Cambridge, with help from Nisha, our paralegal. It has been invaluable to have support from both; Emily for her expertise and Nisha for her relevant practical experience. The team has adapted well to remote working, and the technology used to access medical records and bundles is useful.
I first heard about the firm during work experience elsewhere and it seemed to match exactly what I was looking for. I then undertook a vacation scheme in the Guildford office of Penningtons Manches Cooper, where I was given challenging but rewarding work. The culture of the firm encourages you to take your work seriously, while also emphasising a healthy work-life balance – I was even given the opportunity to participate in the firm’s football team games during my vacation scheme. I have spent periods of time at several firms, but only at Penningtons Manches Cooper did I feel like I was contributing to the team effort. Everyone I met was very welcoming and I am excited to start my training contract in 2021!
The firm did a great job of putting together informative virtual workshops for potential trainees, covering a wide range of practice areas. I hadn’t considered working in the shipping sector before, but the trainee on the call described it well and the work seemed very interesting. The trainee buddy scheme was also valuable - for my application, interviews and ultimately my perception of the firm. My buddy gave me helpful advice on working practices as well as informal details on life at Penningtons Manches Cooper. We also experienced a partner Q&A, which included a chance to ask the managing partner questions. This was a good opportunity to get first-hand information about the firm’s strategic direction.
Katharine took part in a virtual workshop which ran in place of our 2020 vacation schemes.