Michaela Peck, associate
Michaela studied Biological Sciences at Oxford University. She started her training contract in March 2015 after completing the GDL and the LPC and is now an associate in our IP/IT group.
There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ day here at Slaughter and May. It may sound like a cliché, but no two days are the same. For example, a given day in IP/IT could entail drafting a trade – mark licence in relation to a well-known retailer’s franchise agreements or researching certain concepts of patent law and then preparing slides for a client training day. The next day, I could be attending a conference with Counsel to discuss evidence for a patent litigation case or drafting parts of a purchaser’s due diligence report as part of a corporate transaction. The broad range of work that comes across a trainee’s desk is symptomatic of the firm’s ‘multi-specialist’ approach. For me, this diverse range of work is exciting and keeps me on my toes.
Support and guidance
Before joining Slaughter and May, I had heard about the firm’s ‘open door policy’ at recruitment and LPC events, but I wasn’t really sure what this would mean for me as a trainee. Now, as I approach the end of my training contract, the benefits are very clear. Being able to walk into an associate's or partner’s room and talk though a legal or commercial problem, in a relaxed and friendly setting, has been an invaluable part of my learning and development over the past two years. The fact that there are no internal billing targets means that fee earners are not precious about their time. Instead, they are genuinely open to helping trainees (as well as one another), working collaboratively and offering guidance where they can. In addition, each department has dedicated non-fee-earning professional support lawyers (PSLs). In IP/IT, we are lucky enough to have two PSLs (one for IP and the other for IT), both of whom are experts in their field and always eager to share their knowledge and wisdom.
Training for success
In each seat, I have received both department-specific and broader, trainee-wide training (and lots of it!). Some sessions provide a valuable refresher of key legal principles taught on the GDL and the LPC, which crop up frequently in your day-to-day work. Others serve to introduce new legal concepts that stretch your thinking a little more. The sessions also vary in style – from interactive case studies and workshops to more formal presentations with Q&A, all of which are typically led by partners, senior associates or PSLs. However, this formal training programme is only half the story. Sharing a room with either a senior associate or a partner in each seat has allowed me to learn a huge amount “on the job”, be it passively by listening in on my supervisor’s calls and meetings, or more actively through supervisor guidance and feedback. I am confident that all of this training will stand me in good stead for a smooth transition from being a fourth seat trainee to a qualified associate.
Given how hard everyone works at Slaughter and May, I was surprised to learn just how many (over 20!) volunteering and pro bono opportunities are available across the firm and, more importantly, how many (about half) of our employees get involved. Ultimately, I think this reflects the kind of firm we are. I have thoroughly enjoyed being involved in The Key Project (an initiative aimed at placing disadvantaged students in top universities). I think the tutor/tutee relationship is a “win-win” pairing. As a tutor, the project has allowed me to develop certain skills, such as communication. For the tutee, it is a fantastic opportunity to build confidence and maximize their potential in a particular academic subject.
Benefits and outside the office
Although the job can involve long hours from time to time, there is no ‘face – time’ culture. This means that when there is no work to do, we are encouraged to leave the office and make the most of our free time. To give us a helping hand, the firm offers a variety of entertainment benefits at, among other things, London theatres and galleries. The best deal I have benefited from to date has been winning two free tickets to a private viewing of The Big Short at the Barbican through one of the firm’s email entertainment ballots earlier this year. Before the start of the film there was even a live Q&A with one of the actors!