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Sinéad McDonagh, Trainee Solicitor, Arthur Cox

My main focus is to get as much experience as I can

Degree Business and Law (Trinity College Dublin 2016)
Job title Trainee Solicitor
Employer Arthur Cox

Why did you decide on a career in law?

I was unsure about what I wanted todo when I left school so I chose a broad course in Business and Law. I really enjoyed both aspects of my degree and felt that working in corporate law would allow me to combine the two.

Why did you decide to apply to Arthur Cox and what was the application process like and what tips would you have for other graduates looking to apply?

In my second year of college I applied for the Summer Intern Programme in Arthur Cox as I knew the firm had an excellent reputation and worked with interesting clients. Over the course of the internship I got a great sense of the firm's culture. Arthur Cox has an 'open door' policy where trainees share offices with partners and everyone is encouraged to ask questions. This fosters a great learning environment where experts in different fields help others to develop their skills. I also learned about the strong CSR programme here. Particularly the trainee-led Zambia Project, which gives trainees the opportunity to volunteer in rural regions in Zambia. The whole firm is very supportive of this unique opportunity. I applied for the Summer Intern Programme through the online application form on the Arthur Cox website and was lucky enough to be offered a training contract at the end of the internship. My advice to other graduates would be to partake in an internship programme if possible, they can help you to decide not only whether you want to work in a corporate law firm, but also whether the firm is a good fit.

What does your day-to-day role involve and what do you like most about it?

Arthur Cox offers trainees a chance to complete one of their rotations in their offices in London. I am currently completing my Finance rotation in the London office and it has been a fantastic experience. As the office is smaller than in Dublin the team is close-knit. I have had great exposure to drafting documents for different transactions and liaising with clients. Business development is another important aspect of the London seat and I regularly attend and meet clients at different events.

What has been a challenge you have faced and what's the biggest misconception that people can have about working in a law firm?

It can be challenging working on large international transactions. Coordinating a large number of parties requires strict deadlines and the deals can be very fast-moving. However the benefit of working on these transactions is that you have the opportunity to work with the best lawyers from the biggest law firms all over the world on really interesting projects. One of the biggest misconceptions about working in a law firm is that the work will focus on applying what is studied in a law degree. Working in a law firm is about a lot more than simply applying the law. In reality there is a huge commercial element to the work and lawyers need to be in tune with their clients and their corporate needs.

What particularly area do you hope to specialise in and how do you see your career developing?

I do not know where I want to specialise yet. One of the tips I received during the Summer Intern Programme was to keep an open mind during my traineeship. Many people qualify into an area that they had not considered before starting their traineeship. In Arthur Cox we have the opportunity to do five seats, one rotation more than most firms. I plan on completing a rotation in each of the four main practice areas – Corporate, Finance, Litigation and Property. Once I have a sense of the type of work I enjoy I will then chose a specialist seat for my last rotation. Right now my main focus is to get as much experience as I can as a trainee and my career will develop from there.