August 27 2020
How Flex Legal Helped Jamie Secure a Training Contract
How Flex Legal helped Jamie secure a Training Contract
We are delighted to announce that our very own Jamie Roberts has secured a training contract in Osborne Clarke’s London Office, commencing September 2022! Jamie is an Associate in our Bookings Team, and was previously our Paralegal of the Month for December 2019 having completed several placements through F-LEX before joining the HQ team. Jamie is a prime example of hard work and a commitment to the legal industry paying off, and we wanted to share his journey to a training contract!
Could you tell me a bit about your background and education?So I originally grew up in the UK but I moved to Abu Dhabi when I was six, living there until I was 18. I went to a British school and did GCSEs and A Levels. In year 12 I think I really underestimated how hard A Levels were and so didn’t get the best results that year. This meant in year 13 I had to work super hard in order to bump my grades up to ABB. I think this experience really instilled in me a determination to smash my academics at university. I moved back to the UK in 2016 where I went to the University of Liverpool, graduating in 2019 with a first class honours law degree.
Were you always set on a legal career during/after your degree?During my degree I always toyed with the idea of exploring different career paths but I only ever looked briefly. I think as the application process for law is so intense and competitive that after my first application cycle (and receiving 5/5 rejections) I became fully invested and I didn’t really have the time to think about other careers. After each rejection I became so determined to succeed in a career in law. I have always said that the application cycle is a learning process and each cycle I learnt something new that helped improve my applications for the next.
What attracted you to Flex Legal? Would you recommend Flex Legal to others seeking paralegal positions?Essentially, when I graduated from university last summer I didn’t really know what to do with myself! On my CV I only really had a week's work experience in a law firm and so didn’t have the experience required for permanent paralegal roles. I had read about F-LEX online and heard really positive things. I liked the idea of being able to do a number of different placements with a wide variety of firms and in-house legal teams. It was also really clear from my onboarding interview that F-LEX really listened to what I was looking for. The ease of managing my profile and preferences through the online portal and also being able to accept or reject opportunities was great.
I would definitely recommend F-LEX to anyone who is looking to build up their legal work experience. We also regularly team up with law firms and other companies to provide events and training opportunities.
You completed F-LEX placements at Freshfields, Pannone Corporate and GQ Littler in 2019. Could you tell me a bit about these experiences and how they helped you?All of my placements through F-LEX have been very different but all extremely positive! My first one at Freshfields was by far my favourite experience and I thoroughly enjoyed my six weeks there. The first matter I worked on was for one of the firm’s European offices and I worked with the antitrust, competition and trade team. I then worked with the London tax team on a document review project for one of the firm’s major clients. I met so many great people during my time there and was really made to feel part of the team.
My second placement at Pannone was only for two weeks and I worked on a data subject access request (DSAR). This was really different to Freshfields and it was interesting to be able to compare a magic circle firm with a boutique firm.
My final placement at GQ was actually only for one day and my task was finalising a DSAR. GQ is a boutique employment law firm and it was great having lunch with some of the associates there. All of them had trained at City law firms and it was really interesting talking with them and learning about why they left the firms that they had trained at.
Each of my placements really helped me understand the world of law, how law firms operate and the vast amount of opportunity available to me. It was great to meet so many different people and learn about their journeys into law and their respective career paths.
Since January 2020, you have worked as a F-LEX Associate, as part of the Commercial Development Scheme. Could you tell me about this and how this experience has helped you?The CDS has been absolutely key to my success and securing a training contract. During my eight months here I have learnt so much from the team and my skills have developed significantly. Every day, I am involved in a range of different tasks from drafting commercial contracts, to interviewing new paralegals, attending client meetings and working with the sales & marketing team. The best part is that I get to meet a lot of people and I get great client contact. From this, I have been able to understand what clients look for in a candidate and the associated costs and risk when taking on a contractor.
Everybody at F-LEX has been so supportive! The management team have been great mentors to me and the rest of the F-LEX Associates are my little support network. We are a very close-knit team and all get on really well. We are all looking for TCs, so it has been nice to go through the process together and help each other along the way.
You were recently offered a training contract at Osborne Clarke, commencing in September 2022. Could you tell me why you decided this was the firm for you?I actually first met OC at a Legal Cheek event in October 2019. I had heard about them before but didn’t really know too much about the firm. The event included a panel discussion which included Ray Berg, OC’s Managing Partner, and after the discussion he came and had networking drinks with us. I also approached graduate recruitment and asked if there were any spots left for the presentation evening the week after. After both events I had gotten a fantastic insight into OC and everything ticked the boxes for me. The work and type of clients, OC’s approach to innovation and technology, the relatively small trainee intake, the sector focus. It just seemed like the perfect firm on paper. The vacation scheme was also a fantastic experience. Although it was delivered virtually, the graduate recruitment team did a brilliant job to organise a really informative and fun week. My supervisor and trainee buddy were amazing and put me in touch with some really cool lawyers at the firm and I had some good chats with a wide range of people.
It is really cliche and every firm says they have the best culture, but there is something really unique about OC’s culture and people. The people are what make the firm tick. I always used to doubt when people said ‘this is the firm for me’ as a lot of firms seemed to be the same to me, but I genuinely believe in that now. I could not see myself at another firm!
How does it feel now that all of your hard work has paid off?Honestly, it is a huge relief! I was absolutely dreading the possibility of going into another application cycle and going through the process again. It’s also really exciting and I feel super proud of myself that four years of hard work has paid off and I can now relax for a couple of years.
What tips would you offer to those currently applying for training contracts?Tip 1… Go to firm events!
Open days, presentation evenings, Legal Cheek events, etc. are all great ways to engage with firms. I only applied to firms that I had met before. This made it so much easier to write applications and I felt this made them come across a lot more genuine. Attending the events at OC provided me with so much useful information for both my application and interview. At one of the events, a partner talked about OC’s international expansion strategy. In my interview, the same partner asked me about international expansion and I was able to use what he said at the event and deliver a strong answer. I have always thought there can be lots of luck coming in to play during interviews, but sometimes you can make your own luck!
Tip 2… Don’t underestimate the importance of non-legal work experience!
I feel like a lot of people downplay their non-legal work experience and think that it is essential to have legal work experience in order to secure a vacation scheme or training contract. This is definitely not the case! My experience working as a F-LEX Associate has provided me with many more transferable skills than my paralegal experience did! As the market is incredibly tough at the moment, if an opportunity comes up and it is non-legal, go for it! As long as you are able to answer ‘why law?’ for applications and interviews you will be fine.
Tip 3… Be confident!
I felt that my first ever assessment centre went relatively well and my feedback indicated this but the reason I was unsuccessful is because I came across as nervous. This was so frustrating as I was only nervous because I really wanted a vacation scheme with that firm. Once you get to the interview and assessment centre stage, the firm thinks you are a capable candidate but you just need to impress that little bit more. From then on I told myself that I shouldn’t be nervous and that I have to just be confident and adopt the ‘fake it til you make it’ mindset. It was quite a hard mentality to adopt but it definitely helped me in my subsequent interviews and it meant I was able to communicate my thoughts much clearer and let my personality shine through.
What do you plan on doing between now and the commencement of your training contract in 2022?I plan to stay at F-LEX until at least early 2021 and then see from there. If the world is somewhat back to normal by then I may go travelling or even go back to Abu Dhabi and spend some time with my parents. I will then start the LPC at BPP in September 2021. If I have some time I may fill those gaps with more F-LEX placements!
Post written by Jamie Roberts and edited by Harry Mellor