October 1 2020
How Flex Legal Helped Tyler Secure a Training Contract
We are thrilled to announce that Tyler Felix, a F-LEXER who onboarded with us in 2018, has accepted a training contract at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner commencing September 2021! Tyler has been a fantastic ambassador for F-LEX over the years and is also September’s Paralegal of the Month. How timely! We are delighted to have played a small role in Tyler’s success and wanted to share her journey with you.
Could you tell me a bit about your background and education?
I’m Tyler and I live in London and I graduated from the University of Manchester in 2018 studying law with politics. A bit about my background: I am a black woman of Caribbean descent and come from a state school and low income household. Outside of work I also sit on the Youth Panel for the Independent Office of Police Conduct and quite recently got into designing apps due to my interest in legal tech.
I did quite well in my A Levels and achieved A*AB. I was actually meant to start at Exeter which was my firm choice, with Durham being my insurance. On results day I decided that I would probably enjoy moving to another big city more and began my legal journey at Manchester!
Were you always set on a legal career during/after your degree?
Whilst studying law and politics I was open to different career avenues, but had more of a leaning towards a legal career. I completed a work placement at Matrix Chambers but decided being a solicitor was better suited to my skillset over a career at the bar.
Joining university I had no idea about the other world of commercial law! I gradually began attending a number of open days and fairs but experienced quite a bit of imposter syndrome so I wasn’t ready to commit, and I was still deciding whether this was something I could see myself doing long-term. In the meantime, I had several positions of responsibility with Aspiring Solicitors, Urban Lawyers and Women in the City African Caribbean Network which I really enjoyed.
When I graduated I made the decision that being a commercial solicitor was something I could see myself doing and started applying for vacation schemes. I was extremely surprised that the first application I sent out was successful and I obtained a vacation scheme with White & Case. Following the scheme I gained a long-term paralegal role through F-LEX and the combination of these first hand experiences really confirmed my interest in commercial law.
What attracted you to F-LEX?
Compared to other agencies F-LEX seemed the most current and up to speed with how the legal industry is moving which I found attractive. For graduates straight out of university, completing several placements is a useful way to try out different areas of law and treat it like a mini “paralegal training contract”. So, for me, starting my legal journey with F-LEX meant I got to work in a magic circle firm, in-house and experience a wide range of industries and working environments.
Would you recommend F-LEX to others seeking paralegal positions?
Yes, and I do all the time! In university I felt that you are thrown into an environment to meet a number of firms and it’s hard to really know the difference. With F-LEX you can really discuss what your interests are and dip your toes in such a range of experiences. This helped me to differentiate my working style and preferences when applying for training contracts.
You completed F-LEX placements at Freshfields and LexisNexis in 2018, and have worked for Tata Consultancy Services since early 2019. Could you tell me a bit about these experiences and how they helped you?
For someone with no connections in the legal industry, these experiences were the first time I got to really understand first-hand what commercial solicitors and trainees do day to day and how law firms operate.
At Freshfields, I worked on an insolvency matter which comprised of highly sensitive information that needed redacting. At LexisNexis I undertook statistical research into the scope of clients that used the range of technology products provided by the company. These two experiences already contrasted the more transactional vs research heavy areas in commercial law.
During my current role at TCS I have enjoyed the high level of responsibility and client contact. I have had the opportunity to review various legal documents such as statements of work, NDAs and novation agreements through a new technology document review system. This gave me an insight into what tasks trainees and solicitors do which allowed me to be a lot more confident in interviews. I was also able to build up my skillset and implement a more practical application of the law.
You completed a few vacation schemes which didn't lead to training contract offers. How did you stay motivated to keep applying following these?
It was hard. Getting rejected from vac schemes feels personal, and for me as a graduate who had taken time off work to complete them, it felt as though the odds were stacked against me.
After receiving my vac scheme rejections I took time to regroup for the next application cycle. What kept me motivated was knowing that I was so close. I noticed that sometimes I would come out of an interview saying that it had gone amazingly except for one question, or maybe my finance knowledge wasn’t as strong as it could be. So whilst it felt as though I was close there is always more work that can be done when you commit to wanting be the best version of yourself.
I started reading in-depth about finance and capital markets (which previously would have scared me) and found that I really enjoyed it. I became a lot more proactive on my wider interests and joined the Youth Panel for the Independent Office of Police Conduct, and in my spare time taught myself the basics of UX and UI design. Firms really want to get to know you, so when I started pushing myself to become the best version of myself I also became a lot more confident in selling that version at interview. What also stuck with me and what I told myself and my friends repeatedly is it only takes one offer!
You were recently offered a training contract at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, commencing 2021. Could you tell me why you decided this was the firm for you?
I first met the firm last year at an event they held about Brexit. Whilst at other firms I had definitely met lovely individuals, this was the first time across the board that trainees, associates and partners gave a different vibe and showed a lot of interest in me.
What stood out to me was the strength and breadth of the firm’s practice areas. Whilst a number of firms in the legal market are particularly strong in corporate and finance or just private equity, I knew I wanted a TC where I could undertake a lot of diverse work. BCLP is unique in regards to its international strategy, full service offering and tech focus so I had a reason for how each aspect suited both my short and long term ambitious.
How does it feel now that all of your hard work has paid off?!
I couldn’t be more grateful! Honestly, when I first got my offer email I was so scared they were going to take the offer back and I definitely have to keep reminding myself this is real. This achievement is also my Mum’s, my family’s and my friends’ as they have supported me unconditionally and as a black woman of Caribbean descent it really does feel like a community win!
When all you are receiving are constant rejections and you log onto social media and LinkedIn and see so many people getting offers it often felt as though it would never be me. So when it finally did I couldn’t have been more thankful to have shared the moment with my loved ones.
It’s funny when you look back and think about all of the random things you did whilst trying to get a TC; the late night sessions prepping for interviews, the overthinking what to message someone you met at a networking event and (for me) completing my video interviews on my laundry basket because I didn’t have a desk! But it really does pay off – I know it is personal to every candidate but for me BCLP really does tick every box.
What tips would you offer to those currently applying for training contracts?
Tip 1…Don’t give up on yourself!
From before you even submit your application right up until the interview, give everything your best shot. Researching law firms can be quite time consuming but it is better not to cut yourself short at the first hurdle. For video interviews, case studies and interviews it’s inevitable to have nerves, but law firms appreciate someone who is willing to try and attempts to give a question a go. If you don’t know an answer or potentially didn’t answer a question as well as you hoped, try not to let that cloud the rest of the day
Tip 2...Know what you want but also know your value
Part of the training contract journey is getting rejected and it’s easier to switch into the mentality of “I would accept a training contract anywhere”. I know it can be frustrating but I can promise it is much worse to finally get something you have worked hard for to then not enjoy it. Looking back, I am guilty of sending one or two applications to firms I can now never see myself working at. It took a lot of reflection and thinking about what I want from a legal career but I can’t see myself suited to anywhere better than BCLP.
Tip 3...Be proactive
This applies across the board. Whether it is learning more about a particular area of law, increasing your commercial awareness, or networking - you have to constantly be looking to do better. If you’re reflecting on some of the rejections from last cycle, really try to pin point where you may have been going wrong. If you are still not sure, reach out. Most people are happy to answer any questions you might have.
Wishing you all the best of luck!