By Michael Coumas
Following the success of my application to the networking event of which only 40 spaces were on offer, it soon became clear why the bespoke opportunity to attend Inside City Law is so sought after by a wide variety of students across the country.
The host firm, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC), demonstrated high professional standards inherent in a business with over 20 current practice areas and a history tracing back to the 1800s.
Having made my way through the impressively modern entrance lobby, I was welcomed into the event with a talk on the legal workplace by Commercial Dispute Partner, Simon Hart. Explained was the lifestyle of the corporate lawyer and the type of work undertaken, which set the scene for the introduction to the firm itself in the following talk given by trainee solicitors Holly Pownall and Victoria Noto. Together, the talks painted a realistic yet fascinating picture of working as part of a corporate cohort. Several issues were addressed, including what attitudes are taken towards the treatment of clients, community and employees through Corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The point was made that RPC is committed to steering their work via the diverse channels of CSR, having joined organisations like Stonewall and the Legal Sector Alliance to employ both equal opportunities and environmentally sustainable practices.
We were then given the opportunity as attendees to introduce ourselves to each other by utilising our individual skill sets. Each of us was given a topic at random, with the aim of delivering a communication-based presentation about it, before critiquing each other’s performance. Drafting up the notes for verbal delivery of my argument within the short time limit provided meant that this activity was engaging both mentally and physically, and the impromptu nature of the activity made me appreciate the usefulness of reading up about markets and current affairs.
Following this, we were tasked with a case study concerning a mock M&A and due diligence process, in which the cohort of attendees were divided into four competing groups. Before us lay a selection of company portfolios with differing finances and management strategies, which we as a team had to find the closest fitting merger in accordance with the acquisition targets of our mock ‘client‘ acquirer. We then presented a pitch, as to why our chosen company was the right fit, to a panel of RPC employees standing in as judges. Given the time limit, this task required cohesive and efficient teamwork, close attention to detail and persuasive reasoning.
These skills sessions left me with a surplus of energy as the event wrapped up with a networking session, (and drinks overlooking the Thames!). Personnel from trainees to partners were able to share with me their individual experiences, which left me with a holistic understanding of the profession. Trainees in their first seat explained that the prospect of moving between practices was not as frictional as is often made out, due to close cooperation between all working levels in the firm. In addition, it was said that clients receive a diversified and specialist service for their corporate needs through the firm’s membership of the TerraLex network, which provides a unique advantage through access to over 150 other member firms worldwide.
Most interesting was my conversation with trainee Sophie Newton and partner Davina Given, whose points of view on working in a corporate legal environment were as close in nature as they were far in derived legal experience. On the question of what makes working at a firm such as RPC enjoyable, the problem-solving element of the work required, along with the ‘applied academics‘ demonstrated by fellow employees, shone through as the essence of their response.
Reflections on the day
Having spent but a day immersed in the environment of legal professionals, it was evident that these factors not only existed but had established the satisfaction that I and the rest of the attendees had experienced. The event in its entirety had emphasised all the rewarding elements that come with working in a corporate city law firm and demonstrated within that prospect alone the vast field of possibilities for navigating a happy and successful career in the legal profession.
This post was written by Michael Coumas, a first-year law student at The University of Birmingham. We chose to feature Michael on the blog because of his invaluable insight into corporate events and unique writing style.
This article can also be found published on Michael’s LinkedIn here.
Feel free to contact Michael via LinkedIn.