Tuesdays with SOAS Alumni - Timothy Little

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TIMOTHY LITTLE

Position: Trainee Solicitor at Clifford Chance

Location: London, UK

Degree: LLB 2016


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF

I graduated from SOAS in 2016 and I accepted a Training Contract offer from Clifford Chance during my second year. Shortly after I completed my third-year exams, I commenced the bespoke 'Clifford Chance MA' at BPP University in Holborn. The Clifford Chance MA combines a Business MA and the LPC into an accelerated 6-month course. I'm currently sitting in Corporate M&A, having previously sat in the Litigation, Arbitration and Regulatory Group. I'll be sitting in the General Finance department of our Hong Kong office for my fourth seat, but I'm unaware of where I'll be spending my third seat.

 

WHAT WERE YOUR REASONS FOR TRAINING AT CLIFFORD CHANCE?

Clifford Chance had quite a strong presence at SOAS during my first year because a number of people in the third year cohort had recently received Training Contract offers. As a result, I attended Clifford Chance Open Days and events from early on in my studies. At the time, the earliest you could apply for vacation schemes was in second year. So, when the time came to submit scheme applications, Clifford Chance was a priority of mine.

I ended up completing vacation schemes with Clifford Chance and another City firm.  There was no question that Clifford Chance offered better training resources and secondment opportunities – and these were important to me. Further, the firm had recently implemented its new business strategy which I agreed with entirely. Fortunately, I received a Training Contract offer and it wasn't a difficult decision to make!

 

HOW DID YOUR EDUCATION AT SOAS BENEFIT YOU IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS AND THROUGHOUT YOUR TRAINING CONTRACT?

Studying at SOAS can provide a strong example of your curiosity about the law in other jurisdictions when writing applications. However, Clifford Chance interview candidates on a 'CV blind' basis, which means your interviewers are unlikely to know where you studied. This is to ensure fairness amongst all candidates. It may also highlight that the firms in the Magic Circle have shifted away from the Oxbridge stereotype, and instead focus on one’s capacity to eventually become a great lawyer. SOAS law students should feel confident they are well-positioned to obtain a Training Contract. More importantly, SOAS encourages students to be politically engaged which, among other things, allows you to form a picture of how politics, economics and the law are intertwined. Such international and commercial awareness is crucial when practising corporate law and has certainly benefited me throughout my Training Contract.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR TRAINING EXPERIENCE?

It's difficult to choose just one highlight. I've had some great work-related highlights but as many matters are still ongoing I cannot reveal too much. Clifford Chance is fairly unique because when you start studying at BPP, you study exclusively with your trainee intake. I only know of one other firm that does this. The opportunity to build genuine friendships with people 6 months before they became colleagues has definitely been a highlight. I also recently returned from our department retreat in Vienna which was great fun!

 

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

1. Be honest with yourself about why you want to enter the profession. Not only will the truth be revealed at the interview, but you will also undoubtedly need to make significant sacrifices in order to succeed. It's important that you know making these sacrifices will be worth it.

2. No one will expect you to immediately be an expert on the complexities of corporate law. This will develop over many years of practice. Instead, read up-to-date business publications and think about how everything interlocks at a higher level. This will also take time, so start as early as you can!

3. Take advice from the right people. It's amazing how many people are willing to give advice and their opinion without any real experience!