Interview with a City Solicitor
In this guide, we report on experience of Edward, who studied Law at University of Oxford, and is currently working as a solicitor in the City. He will sharing with us his story and assess his law school days from a perspective of practicing lawyer.
“There is a general misconception that the lives of lawyers are like that of the characters in Suits or Silk. But the truth is far from it. There is a lot in law that is tedious and mundane, yet essential” says Edward.
The 25-year-old says lawyers often have to read scads of information, such as case files, witness testimonies, research material and documenter evidence, in order to put their client’s best case forward. Lawyers therefore need to be meticulous individuals with a strong grasp of language, and sharp enough to identify crucial issues after hours of reading.
There are numerous types of lawyers, each of which speciliase in a particular field of law, such as employment, family, criminal, corporate, inheritance and arbitration. They don’t necessarily advocate for clients. For example, when Edward acted as tribunal secretary, his role was akin to that of a judge’s law clerk (tribunal secretaries are often lawyers).
“When people think of a lawyer, they usually think of someone who is doing advocacy and representing clients in a hearing. However, the tribunal secretary merely assists the tribunal with tasks such as proofreading procedural orders and awards, and conducting legal research at the direction of the tribunal” says Edward.
That, however, does not mean that being in the field of arbitration is boring. Edward says one of the highlights of the job is the occasional access to front row seats in the massive and complex disputes between different industries which can lead to face offs between legal titans. Such exciting encounters make for invaluable learning experience.
Asked about some of the biggest challenges in this line of work, Edward says that lawyers occasionally have to handle cases that are foreign to their legal education. For example, an English law-educated lawyer might have to study another country’s civil code on rescission of contracts if a case demands it. Edwards also suggests that newly-minted lawyers can expect much on-the-job learning.
“There are of course some rude shocks after graduating from law school. For starters, most clients don’t come to us with a case involving Alice, Barney and Charlie and a plot of land called Blackacre” says Edward.
“One of my favourite judges once said that no one is born great lawyer, but is always in the process of becoming one. Law school is where you learn how to think, and this is one of the most helpful lessons from law school”.