Lorna studied Law at Oxford University. She started her training contract in February 2013 after completing the LPC, and qualified into our Competition group in February 2015
Applying for the firm
I studied mainly science subjects at A-level, but I wanted to do something vocational at University. I considered medicine, but I realised that I was too squeamish, and thought that law could be a good fit.
Getting the offer
I was offered a training contract at Slaughter and May and moved down from Manchester to London – a big decision, because Manchester is the best place in the world! However, I wanted the experience and I wanted to work for a great firm…that was seven years ago and I haven’t regretted the decision at all.
Choosing a path
I started as a trainee in 2013, completing seats in competition, corporate, real estate, dispute resolution and finance. I loved my competition seat (spending three months in the Brussels office), and qualified into the practice two years later. In the competition practice, the key to success is getting to know your client inside out; you need to understand what they do, the market they operate in and how they like to work. For example, I’ve now worked on a number of matters with British Airways or IAG, their parent company, and have really enjoyed getting to know how their business operates and then utilising my knowledge of the company to be able to do the best work possible for them.
A varied role
I’ve worked on everything from cartel cases to mergers and acquisitions – key in the firm’s multi-specialist approach. I’ve been to court in Luxembourg, to the European Court of Justice, to UK and European hearings, and to site visits everywhere from airports to laboratories. Getting out and about and meeting clients is key to doing the job well – plus it keeps things varied and interesting (and I like to talk). I find the variety of work to be a challenge that I enjoy and to the extent that I do come across issues that I have never dealt with before, the firm offers an extensive amount of training and support to ensure I am able to do the best job possible.
While I was training, I spent three months of my competition seat in the Brussels office. I finished my training in London, and was here for about a year after qualifying before moving back to Brussels for a two year secondment – which I extended to three years as I was enjoying it so much. There’s a lot of flexibility in the competition group to work in Brussels – the European Commission is there and it’s a great professional learning opportunity. Personally, it was also a chance to live in a different country and experience something I wouldn’t have otherwise. In theory, it was also a chance to learn French but my language skills unfortunately remain as limited as ever…
A typical week is very much dependent on what I’m working on. A matter might be a two year process, so the work is dependent on the stage. My day tends to start at my desk and my emails dictate where it goes from there. Currently, I am working with a lot of US clients and so often my day picks up once they wake up.
London life – and beyond
When I first moved to London, I worried I wouldn’t enjoy working or living here. I believed all the myths that are perpetuated about the legal industry – that everyone would be really posh, really white and really male – and that I’d have no friends! I told myself I was going to further my career, and I could do two years and leave. Fast forward six years and I’ve spent over three years in London, and three years in Brussels with the firm. I’ve got friends all around the world (meaning I have a free place to stay all around the world) – I spent last Christmas in New Zealand with two friends I met in the Brussels office.
I’m on the DIVERSE Committee at Slaughter and May, which supports racial, ethnic and social diversity both across and outside of the firm. This has enabled me to meet people who I wouldn’t usually work with on a day to day basis; we do a lot of events and work closely with the trainee recruitment team and HR. Everyone is always really friendly, really interested and keen to get involved. I think there has been a significant amount of progress in this area both internally at the firm, and in the world more broadly, since I started nearly seven years ago. Valuing diversity is now accepted as a necessity rather than an ideal.
We can work long hours, but there’s honestly no need to put life on hold. Some people assume that they won’t have time for a social life and it’s just not true. I’ve always made a conscious effort to keep my plans – I play netball at least once a week, and I’ve only missed a week of netball once in the four years I’ve been in London (and I made that decision). I find that getting out to play sport and catch-up with my team is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health. People are genuinely accommodating of plans and committed to helping you with your work/life balance – so do not give up on fun!