October 20 2020
How F-LEX Helped Carmen Secure a Training Contract
Securing a training contract is one of the hardest challenges aspiring lawyers face. However, we are pleased to share another success story to show you that it is possible! We recently caught up with Carmen Yong, a trainee solicitor at Laytons LLP, to find out more about her journey to a training contract and how F-LEX helped her along the way.
Could you tell me a bit about your background and education?
I am originally from Malaysia and I first came to the UK in 2015 to pursue a law degree at the University of Manchester. From there, I went on to complete my LPC LLM at the University of Law.
Were you always set on a legal career during/after your degree?
In the beginning, I always debated whether to go into business or law. I chose law instead because of its versatility and the transferable skills it teaches me. During my degree, I completed a summer vacation scheme and that further confirmed my interest in a legal career. I like the idea of being not only a lawyer, but also a trusted business advisor to clients.
What attracted you to F-LEX? Would you recommend F-LEX to others seeking paralegal positions?
In this already competitive profession, I found it an extra hurdle being an international student because I could only work 20 hours per week during term time. It was hard to get a job or experience that would fit my schedule and comply with my work restrictions. I am grateful to have stumbled upon F-LEX, as I was able to secure roles which worked around my availability restrictions.
I always recommend F-LEX to my mentees as it is indeed a great platform which helps aspiring solicitors to gain work experience. Be it a short term or long term role, it is a great addition to your resume which also demonstrates a strong skill set to employers.
You completed F-LEX placements at Freshfields and SPG Law in 2019. Could you tell me a bit about these experiences and how they helped you?
My placement at Freshfields was for a document review M&A project where I was involved in redacting commercially sensitive information from documents in the data room. It was an interesting placement as I also got to sit in on conference calls with lawyers in different global offices. The role honed my attention to detail which is essential as a lawyer.
I also secured a role with SPG Law where I was a litigation paralegal for the Volkswagen Emissions case. I was involved in obtaining further information from clients for the purpose of completing their witness statements. I also got the rare opportunity to meet a client face-to-face. The experience taught me how to communicate with clients in a professional manner. I also met some good friends through this role who I am still in touch with.
Overall, there is no doubt that these F-LEX placements have shaped my career as they have taught me valuable transferable skills which I have utilised in interviews. It was like a snowball effect - the more work experience I secured, the better my chances were at securing interviews. The placements were not only a great addition to my CV but also helped to demonstrate my skill set. A combination of all of these factors led to me securing my training contract.
You recently secured and commenced your training contract at Laytons LLP. Could you tell me why you decided this was the firm for you?
I applied to Laytons as it is a mid-sized firm which offers a good blend of both business client and private client work. When it comes to looking for training contracts, I narrowed my search down to mid-sized firms because a smaller trainee intake usually offers higher quality training and support. I did not want to be lost in a large trainee intake as I want to build good connections with my colleagues at the firm.
After living in Manchester for almost five years, I wanted a change of scenery and working in London has always been my goal. I wanted to work at a London firm which offers the same calibre of work as large City firms. Laytons has a strong corporate commercial team, which guarantees interesting work for trainees. I am now in my first seat in corporate commercial and I have been given responsibility and stimulating work from the start. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to train at a firm that has a strong, supportive culture and I am looking forward to growing alongside it.
How does it feel now that all of your hard work has paid off?
After six years of studying and securing work experience along the way, it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can actually start turning my dream of qualifying as a solicitor into reality. It has been a long way, but I am grateful for everyone who has supported me. Not everyone has the same journey to a legal career - do not compare yourself with others. It is not a race and there is no set time of when you need to qualify by. Do it all at your own pace.
What tips would you offer to those currently applying for training contracts?
It is so important to proofread applications before sending them off. I had someone proofread mine and they spotted a few typos. Small errors may seem harmless but law firms receive thousands of applications and will question your attention to detail if you let them slip through. So, get a fresh pair of eyes over your application - you can always get help from friends, family or even your university’s careers team. I also offer a free CV and cover letter review service - message me on Instagram @carmendoeslaw.
Tip 2…Research, research, research
Researching firms is an essential part of training contract applications. Your application must reflect why you are applying to that particular firm and why not other firms. Other than researching firm websites, talk to trainees and lawyers at events and ask them what sets their firm apart from others. This not only gives you a better understanding of the firm, but it also sets your answers apart from other general applications.
Tip 3…This sounds cliché, but never give up!
Undoubtedly, rejection letters can drag down your self-esteem. I remember spending days on applications, only to get rejected by every single firm I applied to. I almost gave up this application cycle but I persevered with the help and support of my family. For my recent application cycle, I researched firms and only applied to a small number which I could genuinely see myself working at. This allowed me to spend more time on research and really tailor my answers. As a result, I got invited to four training contract interviews. I understand it is easier said than done but do not become dejected. Instead, email firms to see if they could give you feedback. If not, sit back and take another look at your application to see what you can improve on.