1. Please introduce yourself!
Hi everyone! I’m Jessica and I studied Law with European Legal Studies (with a year abroad at Bocconi University in Milan) at KCL between 2014 and 2018. I am currently at the end of my third seat in Finance, having done M&A and Litigation as my first and second seats. I will now be going into Commercial for the end of my TC. I am originally from Romania and I have a Russian background but I’ve been in the UK for 8 years now, having moved here for my A-Levels – time really flies! I’ve always been interested in travelling and adapting to new cultures, learning languages (I can currently speak 4) and the business of fashion. I was one of the founders and officers of the Fashion Society at King’s. Within the legal sector, my interests vary from civil fraud and white collar crime (think every episode of any law related TV show ever), M&A (particularly in the retail sector - who can resist headline grabbing deals like the LVMH and Tiffany’s merger?) and intellectual property law (for whoever is studying it right now – hope you’re enjoying the seminars where the tutor would play Marvin Gaye and Robin Thicke on repeat so you could hear the similarity).
2. What made you choose Macfarlanes? Is there anything you wish you had known before starting your training contract?
Macfarlanes is a completely unique firm from many different angles – it’s one of the only firms which has retained top-notch practice areas in both Corporate and M&A and Private Client, it only has two offices (London and Brussels), cultivating relationships with firms who are leaders in each of their respective jurisdictions and, most importantly, it has the friendliest and most cohesive culture of all other firms I’ve experienced. This was clear from the very outset, which, for me, was a KCL – Macfarlanes Commercial Awareness Workshop back in 2015! You will inevitably commit a significant proportion of your time to your work as a solicitor in one of the most pivotal legal centres of the world and doing it alongside people you enjoy working with is a very important consideration. You need to feel like you click with the people at the firms you’re applying to, and for me this was Macfarlanes (but don’t just take my word for it, come see for yourself!). What I wish I had known before starting my training contract was not to worry about the transition from uni to working life – when you start, no one expects you to be able to recite the law backwards or to be versed in email parlance, and at Macfarlanes there is a huge accent on training from the very start that serves both to refresh your legal knowledge (streamlined to the team you are in), and to give you practical advice on day-to-day trainee tasks. I spent way too much of my summer worrying about how I was going to perform once I started the TC in September, only to feel relieved when I started, knowing that the firm was there to support me every step of the way.
3. What advice do you have for students who wish to apply for a vacation scheme or training contract at Macfarlanes?
Research is key for your application – a good tip is searching for interviews in the legal press given by various members of the firm and incorporating their comments into your application. It is equally important to be aware of recent deal highlights and any innovative initiatives, particularly in hot topic areas such as legal tech and environmental impact. It is also crucial to have an idea of what area of law you are interested in and to be able to talk about important developments in that area in your interview. Make sure you zoom in on the practice areas that are the crown jewels of the firm you are applying to, and tailor your answers based on that. If you choose to speak about an area of law which is only marginally important to the firm, it makes the interviewer question your motivations for applying to that particular firm. I also cannot emphasise enough how important it is to treat your assessment day as a two-way street – you are getting to know the firm as much as the firm is getting to know you, and keeping this in mind will help you relax and inevitably perform better in your assessments. People want to see your personality shine through as much as the achievements on your application, so maintain your uniqueness in equal measure to your professionalism. Macfarlanes understands the importance of the exchange process between its candidates, which is proven by the fact that on any assessment day, you will meet a number of representatives from different levels across the firm and have the opportunity to ask the questions that are important to you. This will help you to build a better image of the firm so make sure you think of your questions beforehand!
4. How would you describe your job to a child?
I wake up, get dressed and create documents that change things in the world! When the documents are signed, many things can happen – more blocks of flats are built (Real Estate), products that you want to buy become available nearer to where you live (M&A) or they can disappear from the market altogether (Restructuring and Insolvency), arguments between family members, companies, or individuals are solved (Litigation) and foreign individuals can move to the UK (Immigration). I, together with big teams of other people, type, read, discuss, research and ultimately agree these documents that bring different goals to fruition. At least I think that’s how I would describe what I do to a child!
Interviewed by: Natalia Rodriguez Moskalkova