Tuesdays with SOAS Alumni - Natasha Evagelia

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NATASHA EVAGELIA

Position: Trainee Solicitor at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Location: London, UK

Degree: BA Chinese 2015

WHAT WERE YOUR REASONS FOR TRAINING AT FRESHFIELDS?

I chose to train at Freshfields because it is a Magic Circle law firm that has a strong presence all over the world. Applying as a 3rd-year Chinese student, I had just returned from my year abroad in Beijing and was keen for more opportunities to travel and see the world. Freshfields can provide that. Since first doing my vacation scheme here in 2014, I have already spent a week in the Hong Kong office and visited the New York office. I hope that I will have more opportunities to work abroad as part of a possible 6-month secondment. I have been lucky enough to take language courses to maintain my Chinese and be involved with deals involving China. This has been a great way for me to keep in touch with my love of the Chinese language whilst marrying this with the law and the commercial aspects that come with international deals. Freshfields also has an 8 seat rotation, meaning that I have the opportunity to change departments every 3 months if I wanted. This is different to most other firms in which you choose your 6-month seats and so will not have the opportunity to see as many areas as you potentially want. Another key benefit for me was that Freshfields future trainees complete the LPC in 6 months as opposed to the standard year. For me, this meant less wasted time from not having classes every day and it allowed me to start my training contract sooner. I know that some trainees also took the chance to have a 6-month break and travel the world or pursue other interests. Finally, I chose Freshfields because I liked the people and the atmosphere when I came to visit. My colleagues are all friendly and helpful whilst also being driven which makes for a great working environment.

 

HOW DID YOUR EDUCATION AT SOAS BENEFIT YOU DURING THE APPLICATION PROCESS AND THROUGHOUT YOUR TRAINING CONTRACT AT FRESHFIELDS? IN PARTICULAR, HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR NON-LAW DEGREE BENEFITTED YOU?

Studying Chinese at SOAS was one of the best choices I have ever made. It provided me with the opportunity to study at a world-class university, renowned for its study of Asian languages, whilst being located in the heart of the capital. The main benefit that came from studying Chinese was an understanding that no matter how hard a task seemed it could always be mastered with hard work, commitment, and repetition. This commitment and drive stood me in good stead for my application to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. I think studying a non-law degree was of particular benefit to me because it meant I had something else to offer besides a knowledge of the law. I was once told that it is easy to teach a student of Chinese the law but it is not easy to teach a lawyer Chinese. I think the same can apply for many other degrees and the skills that you learn in a non-law subject are often a lot more transferable than you think. Freshfields’ trainees have studied a great variety of subjects at university and each of us brings something different. Furthermore, there are a large number of non-lawyers in my cohort indicating that it is not necessarily the degree but the skills you learn that are important.

 

WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR TRAINING EXPERIENCE?

Despite having only been a trainee for 6 months, I have already had so many great experiences from selling the Big Issue in my first week as part of our pro bono scheme to hosting a vacation scheme with students applying to Freshfields. Work-wise, I have been lucky to work on a wide range of matters including private equity financings, regulatory investigations, client pitches, and corporate deals involving household names. Working on deals that will be published in the news and knowing that you have been a part of that is quite exciting.

 

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOAS STUDENTS LOOKING TO ENTER THE LEGAL PROFESSION AS SOLICITORS?

My main piece of advice would be to find your unique selling point. Find what makes you different to every other intelligent student wanting to become a lawyer, develop that skill, and learn how it will play a role in your future career as a solicitor. I think it is important to realise that there are a lot of intelligent people with good grades that want to become solicitors and you have to stand out from them. What makes SOAS students stand out is that they will have undergone a completely different university experience to just about anywhere else. SOAS is unique in its ability to bring together unique courses, students from all over the world and a student union like no other. I think it is important to use your time at SOAS to learn more about