Tuesdays with SOAS Alumni - James Seddon




Position: Trainee Solicitor at Linklaters

Location: London, UK

Degree: LLB 2014

How did your education at SOAS benefit you in the application process and throughout your training contract at Linklaters?

SOAS’s unique internationally-focused degree is valuable to international law firms. The majority of the transactions are cross-border, and often involve jurisdictions that the School’s LLB focuses on. The insight into the legal and cultural nature of these jurisdictions in highly valued by firms. This is something that can be pushed in applications, but should always be ancillary to a core corporate/finance interest and commercial awareness. This insight has been valuable during my training contract.

Another benefit of a SOAS degree is the more open-minded way in which law is taught at the University. I have found that this approach has helped me understand the wider commercial considerations that often drive transactions, rather than just focusing on the law.

What were your reasons for training at Linklaters?

Linklaters, like most City firms, has an established international presence and focuses on cross-border work. This was both my main interest and best complimented my degree. Further, Linklaters has one of the most varied number of top level practices. The firm excels in corporate, finance and litigation work. This meant that I could more easily find an area that best-suited me and do the best quality work there.

What has been the highlight of your training experience?

The work is generally of exceptional quality and often dizzying complexity and value. This has helped me develop well as a lawyer. However, my highlight would definitely be the non-legal opportunities that I have had. At the firm, I have been involved in diversity and disability advocacy. There are a lot of other opportunities available at large firms that both aid your career and allow you to get additional skills and satisfaction out of your job.

What advice do you have for SOAS students looking to enter the legal profession as solicitors?

You need to be sure that it is the best career route for you. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to enter the profession because you studied an LLB. This means you need to get as much experience as you can and do it with an open mind.

Regarding applications, you need to prove that you: (i) can do the job, (ii) know what the job entails and (iii) are driven/enthusiastic. This is best done by having strong grades and gaining as much experience as possible. The firms don’t expect you to be a polished lawyer. What they are looking for are enthusiastic people who know what they are signing themselves up for.

SOAS students often think that the School has a negative reputation amongst larger law firms. This is simply not true. The firms respect the quality and scope of the SOAS education.