My first time studying Law was at sixth form and really enjoyed it. I decided that I wanted to study it at university, but unfortunately, after my first year of sixth form I received a bad grade in the AS level (my top tip is to always revise and don't leave things until the last minute)! This made my confidence drop completely and I thought I wasn't intelligent enough to have a career in the field. However, I didn’t give up and after putting the work in and resitting exams - I ended up getting the grades I needed.

I went to Northumbria University to study Law. I loved my time at University as the course is large so I had the opportunity to make a lot of friends and I found the teaching very practical. The university encouraged us to think about our future career the entire way through by teaching about employment opportunities in law and hosting careers fairs.

I first learned about Womble Bond Dickinson at a University careers fair. They sponsored the Honour Roll award at the university, which provided the opportunity to visit the firm. I attended an event at the firm in my second year of university where I met some of the trainees and staff. I was surprised that the trainees seemed a lot like me; a lot of them had gone to polytechnic universities and did not have much prior legal experience before joining the firm. This made WBD stand out to me - for such a large firm it came across as being very relatable and felt like somewhere I could fit in.

I decided I wanted to become a solicitor in a commercial firm because I like working with people and in teams. Womble Bond Dickinson was the perfect fit because it is a very collaborative firm – the Newcastle office is open plan and hot desking allows you to meet and connect with different people on a daily basis. When I applied to WBD, I never thought I would be successful. I had received many rejections from different firms and I didn’t think I would get a training contract at such a highly-ranked firm. I was surprised at how different the application process was to other firms too. Of course, it had a similar structure with interviews and assessment centres, but the questions being asked and style of interviewing was very different. The questions were mainly designed to find out more about my personality and values. This stood out to me because it was clear that the firm care about the people they hire and they look for those who have the right personality and potential - rather than just the right grades or experience.

After joining Womble Bond Dickinson, my feelings are the same. I had very little prior legal experience before joining the firm and joined straight after leaving university. I expected to fall behind the other trainees, but this hasn't been the case. The Residential team welcomed me and provided a lot of support to help me adjust to the role (they never let me feel like I was asking a stupid question) and I wasn't expected to have any prior knowledge or experience other than what I had learned at university.

WBD organised a social for the trainees in the induction when we joined the firm so we got to know each other well early on and make good friendships. The induction included the trainees and apprentices from all of the UK offices and this has led to us all staying in touch on a regular basis, despite being based in different locations. There are lots of opportunities to get involved in extracurricular activities at the firm. I have been involved in graduate recruitments events which allow me to network with students who are in the same position I was not long ago. I have also had the opportunity to attend events with clients and meet clients face to face - which is rare post-covid. I am about to start my second seat within the firm and my confidence has grown incredibly since I first started. I feel this is due to the support from my team, other trainees and the wider firm as a whole.

This blog was written by Chelsie Rapley, Trainee Solicitor (currently sat in the Projects & Procurement team) in Newcastle at Womble Bond Dickinson.

Chelsie Rapley