Even though I really enjoyed my law degree and made sure to get involved in everything I possibly could, when I graduated I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do.
There was a fairly heavy commercial focus at my University and I was not particularly keen on going down the magic circle route (although I was very appreciative for the copious free pens, mugs, and drinks they provided throughout the three years) but equally, I wasn’t keen on going down the legal aid route either.
Not knowing what to do, I did what every sane person does and moved to New York. Whilst there, I ended up volunteering with lots of different charities and loved being involved in such worthwhile causes. I also landed a role as a paralegal at a niche commercial insurance firm where I enjoyed the problem solving and client facing nature of the work, but not the field. I then had a brain wave and thought what if I could combine the two?
By this point, I was sure that I wanted to work somewhere that had an ethos I agreed with and the clients left you with a nice warm fuzzy feeling. I also wanted to work somewhere that allowed you to have a work-life balance and both respected and enabled me to continue with my interests outside of work (I am a Scout Leader so I am very grateful for the firm having a volunteering leave policy so I don’t have to use up all my annual leave on camps!). A lot of googling later, I stumbled across an article on Lawcareers.net about Bates Wells and realised there was such a thing called ‘charity law’ and that some firms focused not solely on money, but also the wider world.
What ultimately made me chose Bates Wells over similar firms? The people. It sometimes feels like that firms have a ‘type’ and it can be daunting if you don’t fit that mould. I genuinely believe that Bates Wells doesn’t look for one kind of person; certainly all the trainees have quite different personalities and experiences! But what really cemented my decision was the assessment centre where I met current trainees and I thought ‘wow what weirdos – I think I’ll fit right in with them’. Two and a half years later, I am happy to say I was entirely correct (although perhaps it is me who was the weirdo all along).