Beginning life as a trainee at Slaughter & May

Damien Crone is a new KLS graduate (2023)

Tell us about the training contract you have secured:

I secured a training contract at Slaughter and May which is currently scheduled to start in March of 2025. Before beginning life as a trainee at the firm, I’ll need to complete the City Consortium Solicitor Training Programme (CCP) which is put on by Slaughter and May, HSF, Freshfields, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters and Norton Rose Fulbright in order to prep future trainees for the Solicitors Qualifying Exams (SQE) which I need to pass both SQE, 1and 2.

As a dual Canadian-English citizen, this training contract fits perfectly with my future plans – I came to Kent with a goal to become a qualified lawyer and an open mind to do that in the UK rather than returning to Canada if a great opportunity came about after graduating, and clearly a job with Slaughter and May fits that bill. I’ve loved my time in the UK since moving here in September 2020, and I’m extremely happy to say that it will get to continue.

Can you tell us how you found out about the training contract and the application process?

I first found out about the training contract process through a talk at Kent by Macfarlanes. It’s a different process than that in Canada and so it was foreign to me at first. However, I really got a handle on the process after expanding my professional network, sitting down on multiple occasions with lawyers at firms that I was interested in working for and those in in-house roles who have since become good friends.

How have your studies at Kent prepared you for the application process?

Professors at Kent were always willing to provide guidance or offer to review applications in order to give me the best shot to be successful, and this was invaluable.

My studies have helped put me in a position to succeed as a qualified solicitor by helping teach me to look outside of the box and think critically about the matters I’ll be working on. While I’m not a trainee yet, I am working as a paralegal at a large insurance company, and I can already see the positive effect that my time at Kent has had on my ability to advise members of the business.

Do you have any advice for anyone considering applying for training contracts?

Do your research and make sure you know about the firms you want to apply to inside and out. You are going to be questioned about why you want to work at these firms, and when you give your answer, you can expect to be questioned about that as well. Knowing all you can about where you’re applying is key to putting yourself in the best position possible.

Additionally, don’t get discouraged if you aren’t successful on the first try. It’s an extremely competitive process and, chances are, it’s going to take a couple attempts. I submitted 10+ vacation scheme applications and only had one interview – with Slaughter and May – and I didn’t get the position. It took me applying to Slaughter and May again after being rejected and using the feedback they gave me to improve my application for me to get a training contract. Persistence is key.

Advice given to me on numerous occasions was, if you can get a first, get a first. Having top grades helps you stand out from the pack at the application stage – and though it’s tempting to spend your time in university parting and going out, the parties are much better with a solicitor’s salary, making the sacrifice all the more worth it. If being a solicitor is what you want, dedicate yourself to doing what it takes to make that happen.

Finally, use all of the resources available to you through your degree to broaden your knowledge and develop your commercial awareness. You get either free or heavily discounted student memberships to news outlets such as the Financial Times and Bloomberg, and these are key to having an understanding of what is going on in the commercial world. You can definitely expect to have your commercial awareness tested in interviews and these get you off the ground.