Pinsent Masons Training Contract Application Questions and Answers
Please provide us with an overview of any experience/knowledge you have of the legal sector. You should also provide up to four further examples of how you have developed skills relevant to the work of a trainee solicitor at Pinsent Masons. Aim to use only your strongest examples, but feel free to use examples from all areas of your life eg academic studies, sports & hobbies, previous employment etc. To understand what skills and abilities we are looking for you will find it helpful to refer to our competency framework, a copy of which is available on the ‘What we are looking for’ page of our graduate website.
Please provide a brief overview of your responsibilities, the skills gained and what you learned from the experience.
Assisted on the dispute between two high-net-worth [language] individuals regarding ownership of shares in [language] oil and metals companies, a Ukrainian shareholder dispute and assisted the corporate department with the preparation of an Offering Memorandum for a fashion brand.
As part of my involvement in the these matters, I coded documents for responsiveness and privilege, helped to draft and proofread witness statements, carried out internal research, attended a High Court hearing, prepared trial bundles, performed translation work and numerical tasks in relation to shareholding, assisted with requests from counsel during the hearing, attended on the defendant and witnesses, liaised with solicitors from across multiple jurisdictions, helped to oversee the archiving process, created a corporate profile, conducted searches with the Companies House and proofread and amended an Initial Public Offering prospectus for a luxury goods company.
This experience has provided me with a good understanding of litigation because I worked on one case from the inception to trial. I operated on matters in the telecommunications, oil and gas, commodities and fashion industries which in turn improved my sectoral expertise and enabled me to understand individual client requirements. My involvement in these matters required me to liaise with the firm’s overseas offices which improved my teamwork and communication skills as well as provided me with an insight into how different jurisdictions and international markets operate and impact on the clients’ requirements.
Whilst working on a dispute between two-high-net-worth individuals, I developed my organisational and teamwork skills. I worked closely with the firm’s [city] office for the purpose of translating and proofreading witness statements against a tight deadline. In order to plan and organise my workload, I contacted the [city] team to agree a timetable and identify the specific requirements of the task. Throughout the task I kept a check on time and constantly adjusted my workload to changing requirements in order to meet our deadline.
Throughout my task I noticed that a number of important words recurred throughout most witness statements. To ensure consistency across all translations of witness statements, I decided to make an improvement to our work by devising a list of proposed translations and circulating it to all team members. Having completed my translations, I volunteered to assist others by proofreading their translations which helped us to complete our task to a very high standard. I learnt that it is important to be proactive and use initiative when working in a team to achieve a common goal to a high standard.
Whilst assisting solicitors on a banking matter in the dispute resolution department, I developed my problem solving and analytical skills and attention to detail. I was asked by an associate to create an executive summary for one of the issues in a very short space of time for a meeting with the client. I performed research and reviewed documents on our internal database in order to identify the salient elements that I needed to incorporate into the executive summary. I then established a sequence of events and explained how they related to the issue and the client’s requirements. This helped me to create a logical and coherent overview of different elements of the issue. I consistently demonstrated good attention to detail by ensuring that my work was error-free and contained the right detail. Having completed a preliminary draft, I still had some difficulty in understanding certain aspects of the issue. Firstly, I tried to conduct more research but could not find any relevant information. I realised that the deadline was fast approaching and decided to adopt a more efficient approach. I went to see an associate who had a good knowledge of this particular area. I then improved the executive summary by providing a better analysis of the relationship between different elements.
As part of my involvement in a shareholder dispute, I developed my commercial awareness and demonstrated drive and initiative. I accompanied the client and solicitors from several jurisdictions to a board of directors EGM of a joint venture vehicle in Amsterdam in my capacity as an interpreter. During our strategic meeting, I noticed that some solicitors had difficulty in understanding some of the nuances of the [language] market in which the client was operating. I decided to stretch myself and add value to my work by giving a short presentation in order to summarise the main issues raised during the meeting and explain local nuances affecting the client in [country]. I successfully applied my understanding of the client’s business and the environment in which they operate by explaining the relevance of each issue to the client’s overall objectives. As a result, the solicitors had a good understanding of the client’s position when going into the EGM which allowed them to reach a favourable result for the client. This experience has taught me that it is very important to use straightforward and uncomplicated language when explaining complex ideas to a client. I have also learnt that when communicating to a client, it is very important to have a good understanding of their business and industry in order to understand how their ideas fit into the bigger picture of the case.
In my third year of university, I successfully established an on-campus amateur [sport] club for the first time in fifty years despite a strong opposition from the sports committee. This process helped to develop my confidence, leadership and social skills. I assumed large levels of responsibility by setting up and running a [sport] appreciation society, coordinating meetings and petitioning students which developed my ability to take control of my workload and provide guidance to others. This activity improved my social skills because I constantly interacted with people from various backgrounds and engaged them in conversations. During the negotiations with the sports committee, I conveyed my arguments across persuasively and confidently which helped to persuade the sports committee to grant permission for an amateur [sport] club at university. This experience taught me to tailor my communication to different audiences which improved my ability to deal with diverse categories of individuals.
What makes you think that you would be particularly suited to a long-term career in commercial law at a firm like Pinsent Masons?
I think that I would be particularly suited to a long-term career in commercial law because I have extensive legal experience and the relevant skill-set which will enable me to successfully deal with complex commercial issues facing clients globally. I possess an international outlook, commercial acumen and strong problem solving and analytical skills which will enable me to operate in an international environment and take a sectoral approach to understand the challenges and opportunities faced by clients in order to deliver solutions that are aligned to clients’ objectives. I am a good team player and have an ability to express my ideas in a simple and understandable manner. This will allow me to work closely with the firm’s overseas offices to discuss and develop ideas and contribute my perspectives in order to develop innovative and effective solutions for clients. I am very enthusiastic, entrepreneurial and focused which will see me take initiative and go beyond what is expected of me and think creatively about the clients’ problems in order to devise innovative solutions and add value to my work. I possess good client-facing skills through which I will be able to deliver a good client service and work with the client to understand their business, objectives and legal requirements. I possess leadership and organisational skills which will allow me to prioritise competing deadlines and manage my time and resources effectively.
Describe your greatest non-academic achievement of the last two years. Why was this achievement important to you?
In [year], I established an events management business. I feel that this is my most important achievement because I developed an innovative business model that focuses on providing budget party packages in the retail market and helping restaurants and cafes to restructure their operations to increase their competitiveness and profitability. I feel that this is an important achievement because I have successfully grown the business in the retail and commercial markets in a challenging economic climate. I feel that the experience of running this business has significantly strengthened my commercial awareness and interpersonal skills as I am constantly assisting the director with legal, financial and management issues and adjusting the business model to the requirements of different businesses.
The current state of the global economy has placed significant pressures on a number of organisations. Imagine that Pinsent Masons are going to meet with a potential client for the first time. What should our lawyers do to ensure the meeting is successful?
Pinsent Masons’ lawyers should conduct some preliminary research about the client’s business and potential issues before the meeting in order to plan their meeting and understand the client’s business and industry. During the meeting, lawyers should identify the client’s requirements and consider their options. Lawyers should inform the client of the firm’s sectoral expertise and that it can offer the client with effective and innovative solutions through expert knowledge of the environment in which the client operates and the pressures and opportunities they face. In order to put matters into perspective, lawyers should present the client with case studies of their previous work on similar projects in order to establish Pinsent Masons’ experience and expertise in the client’s area. Pinsent Masons’ lawyers should ascertain the international requirements of the client and explain to them how Pinsent Masons’ international reach can provide the client with a seamless service through its network of international offices and global capabilities. Lawyers should bring to the client’s attention that Pinsent Masons can provide the client with a comprehensive service through the firm’s expertise across a wide range of practice areas.
Pinsent Masons expects its trainee solicitors to be innovative and able to spot opportunities. What one change would you recommend we make in order to help ensure the firm meets its long-term goals?
I would recommend for Pinsent Masons to establish a greater presence in the emerging markets that have growth potential in the sectors that Pinsent Masons operates in either by opening overseas offices there or forming alliances with local firms. This will help Pinsent Masons to strengthen its international reach and consolidate its sectoral expertise which will help it to achieve its long-term goal of becoming a firm of truly international reach and put it in a stronger position to provide clients with a seamless and fully integrated service.