#GradStories Kate Donegan, Trainee Solicitor, A&L Goodbody
What does your job involve?
There are four seats during the time at A&L Goodbody as a trainee solicitor. Currently I'm in my second rotation and I'm in the funds department, which is part of the corporate department of the overall firm. My role varies from helping senior solicitors with ongoing matters, research tasks, regulatory filings, to having my own high level interaction with clients, which is great. The Escalate programme is part of our training so there are workshops, talks from different members of various departments across the firm. It's a very fortunate programme that we have and it really develops our skills as part of the trainee programme, which ultimately will help us be successful solicitors.
What skills are important to be successful?
Interpersonal skills are quite important. We operate quite an open door policy and there is a lot of collegiality between different members of different teams across departments. It's also really important to be hard working and diligent. That's part and parcel of the role as a trainee solicitor and links hand in hand with being organised and having good management skills. There are a lot of ongoing matters and you need to keep on top of your work as well as engaging in all the different aspects the traineeship has to offer.
What do you love about your job?
I love first and foremost that I work with 29 other people in my intake, which is great. We're colleagues and friends. We've been through block altogether and are now going through the traineeship together. Having them as a source of assistance and help, as well as the friendship that's formed, is really great. I also love how working at A&L, no two weeks are the same. It's a very dynamic industry and it's ever-changing. We're fortunate to be able to work with a lot of technology and we're actually working presently at developing that technology for client-facing roles, which is really great. The corporate responsibility aspect of A&L is amazing too. I was very fortunate last year to take on a secondment role where one day a week I assisted with community law and mediation.
How did you get your job?
I studied law at Trinity for four years. In my third year I did the internship with A&L. It was a month long and I was part of the restructuring and insolvency team. I really liked the internship. We engaged in workshops, we were on the floor so we had time to engage with the work, which really gave a sense of what life as a trainee would be like working at A&L. On the back of that I got an interview for the traineeship and was ultimately successful. I took a year out in 2014 and travelled, paralegalled a bit within the firm and also did my FE1 results, and then 2017 came and I started my traineeship.
What advice would you give a first year student?
Management and organisational skills are the most important. As a first and second year student it's important to hone in on those skills because the application process for traineeships for firms all over the country come quite quickly. They're quite intense and time consuming, especially when you're trying to balance study. Plan ahead and plan the answers you want to say in the application and keep an eye on the dates.
What advice would you give someone starting out with a firm?
My advice for first and second year students is that A&L offer a one day law start programme. Applications open in January. For one day in May you are buddied up with a trainee and it gives you a sense of what the firm is like. Use it to your advantage; see if corporate life is for you and if working in a big firm is what you ultimately would like to do. For third year, final year students, undergrads and postgrads, the internship is a really great opportunity to see if the corporate working life is what you want to do ultimately. Make the most of all the opportunities, engage properly with all the workshops and talks that take place, ask questions and really see if you would be a good fit with the various firms.