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A day in the life of a trainee

Anees Norman and Jack Baldwin talk about life as trainees at Lewis Silkin.

Anees Norman talks about her time as a trainee at Lewis Silkin.

Did you know what Lewis Silkin was like before you started as a Trainee?

I was fortunate to have worked with Lewis Silkin in my previous career prior to joining as a Trainee. This gave me a unique insight as a client and I experienced the breadth of their expertise across a range of areas, particularly in employment. I would encourage prospective candidates to take the opportunity to spend some time with Lewis Silkin on a workshop or Open Evening as it gives you the chance to experience the firm first hand and get a sense of whether it is right for you.

How would you describe the recruitment process?

The recruitment process is rigorous but the assessments and interviews also give you the opportunity to show your personality. The questions and exercises assess not only your problem solving skills but also how you interact and work with other people, as this is such an important part of the culture here. It was refreshing to know that HR review each application individually and that the time you spend filling in the application form really matters.

How much Partner contact do you have a Trainee at Lewis Silkin?

Lots! Being part of a small trainee intake means you get exposure to Partners during your seat very early on. Lewis Silkin has a collaborative culture which means you can be working alongside Partners, Associates or Paralegals on a variety of matters across different parts of the firm.

How would you describe the working culture at Lewis Silkin?

Innovative, fast paced, collaborative and fun!

What has been the highlight of your Training contract thus far?

During my seat in the Commercial Dispute Resolution team, I worked on an international arbitration which was a fantastic experience. The work was varied, challenging and each day was different. I had the opportunity to get involved in many aspects of the case ranging from attending meetings with our clients and witnesses to analysing evidence to assist our barristers. I also had the chance to attend the hearing itself which was brilliant. The opportunity to get involved and make a valuable contribution to this case has been a real highlight for me so far.

What advice would you give to prospective candidates?

I think that trainees who demonstrate a desire to learn, a proactive approach to getting involved and who can work well with people at all levels will be successful at Lewis Silkin. I’d also recommend thinking about your previous experiences at work or in education and sharing examples of these sorts of characteristics during the recruitment process.

Jack Baldwin (NQ) talks about his time as a trainee at Lewis Silkin.

Why was Lewis Silkin the right place for you to complete your training contract?

When I started the process of applying for training contracts, I was not sure where to start.  Not knowing, I adopted the mindset that I think besets many: the bigger the better.  Thankfully, before making what I think would have been a mistake for me, I stepped back and realised there are more important matters in life and in law (firms).  Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to work somewhere which was cutting edge but not cut-throat.  Looking at the lists of places where people enjoyed working, I was struck by the fact that (i) few law firms appeared and (ii) of the few firms that did appear, Lewis Silkin’s name kept popping up. I thought that if so many others enjoyed working there, Lewis Silkin might be the right place for me and that has proven to be the right decision. 

How much Partner contact do you have on an average day at Lewis Silkin?

During my training contract, I sat with partners in every seat (as did all other trainees), and most of the work I did was probably directly for partners.  Therefore, for the duration of my training contract, I would say, probably just the right amount of contact. Since qualifying, I sit in one of our open plan areas, which until recently, accommodated four partners and our Chief Executive.  I think they say, “you can never have too much of a good thing.”

How would you describe the working culture at Lewis Silkin?

Lewis Silkin allows people to be themselves and there is not a monoculture in terms of how people work.  This means you learn to work in different ways, think creatively and can develop your own style.  The impression I get of certain other places is that there is more of a cult-like culture where everyone is expected to think and work in a similar way. There are, however, common characteristics, which unite the way in which people at Lewis Silkin work.  For the majority of the time, the atmosphere is relaxed despite everyone’s approach to the job being rigorous.  There is also a strong emphasis on creating a collaborative culture, so people at all levels are approachable.  Importantly, as well, the firm is of a size where you feel like your contribution can make a difference, and so you never feel like you are just a cog or a number.    

How would you describe the process in obtaining an NQ position?

Straightforward!  That is said with a bit of tongue-in-cheek, but seriously, the process seemed very much to designed with us (the candidates/trainees) in mind.  Case in point would be the timing of the process, which is earlier than many firms.  This means that if you were to not get a job, then you have plenty of time to sort yourself out.  Thankfully, this was not a concern for my cohort, as there was a 100% retention rate (which has been repeated this year as well).  However, I think this point is indicative, in the sense that, it feels like the firm is very much on your side throughout the process.  A number of different people played a part and we were offered the opportunity to attend CV workshops and have mock interviews.   

What advice would you give to prospective candidates?

I remember the invitation to the assessment day saying ‘smart causal’.  I immediately thought, “well, no suit and tie for me then.”  On the day, I walked into the room and immediately realised that I was the only one who had interpreted the dress code in this way.  At the time I thought, “well, that was a bad decision.”  Afterwards, I was told that it had not counted against me and (the red jumper) had actually helped me stand out.  I am by no means discouraging anyone from dressing to the nines, but the point I am trying to make with this rather superficial example, is do not approach every assessment day, interview, etc. in the same way.  Tailor your approach to the firm and that will help you stand out.   

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