Welcome to our latest ‘what I know now’ feature, where we pick the brains of some of the region’s top solicitors.
David Goy trained as a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell and qualified into the real estate team there in 2009. He moved to Shoosmiths LLP in April 2017 as a Senior Associate. He has been involved in most aspects of trainee recruitment and development, from assessment days, supervising vacation placement students and being the solicitor responsible for the supervision of trainees within the Shoosmiths team. Here he shares some of his career experiences, highlights and advice for newly qualified solicitors.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO TRAIN AS A SOLICITOR?
Initially an early fascination with courtroom dramas and films. When I realised that commercial lawyers didn’t generally spend their working days doing anything quite that exciting, I was lucky that the subjects that I enjoyed academically were ones that were well suited to reading law at University and a career following that.
HOW WELL DID YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A TRAINEE PREPARE YOU FOR BECOMING QUALIFIED?
I would say very well. It really depends on the quality of supervision and training that you receive as a trainee, and both of those were taken very seriously by my training partner, who invested in my development.
DESCRIBE YOUR TRAINING PARTNER IN 3 WORDS.
Attentive to detail.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE FOR YOU WHEN YOU WERE ADMITTED AND TOOK A FULL SOLICITOR ROLE?
I never felt that there was a great leap in terms of internal expectations, but the big difference is the expectation from clients. I found that I had far more direct client contact following qualification, and clients see that you are qualified and don’t look at whether that has been for one year or ten years. They will expect you to know the law and understand the matter that they are instructing you on. Good supervisors will manage that process to ensure that there is a balance struck between being exposed to pressures so that you develop and ensuring that you are not hopelessly out of your depth, which is unhelpful both for the NQ’s development and the quality and value of advice that the client receives.
WHAT WERE THE FACTORS BEHIND YOU CHOOSING THE AREA OF LAW THAT YOU SPECIALISE IN?
Being a good commercial real estate lawyer requires a thorough understanding of land law, contractual principles and an enthusiasm for transactions. All practice areas require a thorough understanding of the relevant law, but because land law is an area that has developed over hundreds of years, there is a lot of it, which is great for lawyers like me who enjoy the technical side of the job. Commercial real estate also involves dealing with tangible assets and it always puts things into context when you can visit the developments that you have documented.
COMPARED TO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE, HOW SIMILAR OR DIFFERENT DO YOU PERCEIVE THE CHALLENGES TO BE FACING NQS IN 2019?
I think the competition for training contracts in particular, and jobs for NQs, is greater now than it has ever been. The quality of CVs that I see for prospective trainees increases every year and I am amazed at how much relevant legal and other work experience candidates have on the back of their own initiative.
WHAT PIECE OF PRACTICAL ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO IS AT THE START OF THEIR LEGAL CAREER?
To really think long and hard about whether a career in the law is right for them. Training can be a very tough and expensive process, so try to get as much relevant experience as you can before committing to a career in law.
WITH HINDSIGHT WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN WHEN YOU WERE NEWLY QUALIFIED?
That you should never be afraid to suggest new ideas or approaches to tasks. Just because things have always been done in a particular way doesn’t mean that there aren’t better alternatives and you will be respected for suggesting them even if they’re not taken up.
IF YOU WERE TO RECRUIT A LAWYER AT NQ LEVEL TO WORK CLOSELY WITH YOU, WHAT WOULD BE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU’D LOOK FOR?
Attention to detail, a willingness to learn and develop and a real enthusiasm for the work and our clients’ businesses.
WHAT IS THE STRANGEST EXPERIENCE YOU’VE HAD IN AN INTERVIEW, AND HOW DID YOU HANDLE IT?
Being asked a question that seemed to bear no relevance to the job or to the interviewer’s assessment of my character or experiences. I dealt with it by making a joke and trying to direct the interview onto a different line of questioning!
WHAT IS YOUR BEST INTERVIEW TIP?
Really answer the questions being asked rather than the questions you would like to answer, but make sure you give relevant examples of your experience – that is generally what interviewers are looking for.
TO DATE WHAT IS YOUR CAREER HIGHLIGHT?
Completing my first significant development site disposal for a client where I advised several years previously (as an NQ) on site assembly and the original acquisition. Seeing a transaction through from inception through to disposal over several years is very satisfying and helps you to really understand the client’s business and what they are trying to achieve.
WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU AT WORK?
I walked straight into a glass door at a client’s office once, and then spent the remainder of the meeting trying to pretend it hadn’t hurt.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT THE LEGAL PROFESSION?
The legal profession (like many other professional services) can be rigid in its approach to working hours and location. I think that lack of flexibility can exclude a lot of people from the profession, or from progressing as far as they would like to. Yes, the hours are always likely to be long, but in my experience clients don’t care where you work from provided that you are contactable. One of the big draws to Shoosmiths for me was its commitment to agile working, which allows you to be far more efficient and effective with your time.
BESIDES BEING A LAWYER, IF MONEY WERE NO OBJECT AND YOU KNEW YOU COULDN’T FAIL, WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO TRY OR DO?
Professional sportsman, preferably cyclist.
SUMMARISE YOUR EXPERIENCE OF LEGAL RECRUITERS IN FIVE WORDS OR LESS.
Tenacious, persistent, connected and helpful.
Thanks for your time, David. Watch out for those pesky glass doors!