First year Kent law student secures offer for Training Contract from Magic Circle firm

Law student Tyra Ntege has achieved extraordinary career success by securing an offer for a ‘Magic Circle’ Training Contract at the end of only her first year of studies at Kent.

Tyra was offered an interview with Clifford Chance after completing the firm’s five-day First Year Springboard Scheme over the summer vacation. The offer for a Training Contract followed soon after, in early August.

During the Scheme, which comprised three days in Clifford Chance’s London office and two days in the firm’s offices in Amsterdam, Tyra participated in classroom based activities and gained in-depth insights into key practice areas such as Tax, Pensions, Employments & Incentives, and Corporate Mergers and Acquisitions (Public). Other highlights included multiple opportunities to network with trainees, associates and Partners, a skills session on how to progress from ‘comfort zone’ to ‘stretch zone’ when working in the legal corporate environment and a boat cruise in Amsterdam.

Tyra first became aware of the opportunity at Clifford Chance thanks to her involvement with an agency called Rare Recruitment during her sixth form studies: ‘The agency focuses on establishing networks for ethnic minority students and those of a lower socio-economic status (ie working class) who want to pursue careers primarily in law or banking.’

Once at Kent, Tyra learned of the services provided by both the Law School’s Career Development and Employability Officer Jayne Instone and the Student Success Officer Sheree Palmer but didn’t book a meeting until prompted by a friend: ‘These services had been mentioned but I didn’t properly utilise them until a fellow course-mate brought me along with him to Jayne and Sheree’s offices. He was enquiring about the Freshfields’s Stephen Lawrence Scholarship and insisted that I do a practice competency interview the day before my Clifford Chance Assessment day (to get onto the First Year Springboard Scheme).

‘Jayne went through key competencies with me and helped me with how to structure my responses alongside pointing out some things that needed less emphasis. Most importantly she was super encouraging and expressed a similar interest in engaging ethnic minority law students with the opportunities and assistance that the Employability Office has to offer.’

Tyra, a keen advocate of human rights, had initially considered a career at the Bar: ‘Barrister and star England football player Eniola Aluko was a key role model for me. I have always had the ambition of gaining legal expertise to positively impact the development of other continents, starting with East Africa (I am half Ugandan). I knew I wanted to be a Lawyer once I had visited my country and become aware of my grandmother’s charitable organisation, established under the African Children’s Fund – SAFE (Strategic Action for the Eradication of Child Abuse).’

Tyra considered combining her interests in law and football to explore sport law but soon realised that the field of commercial law would enable her to develop skills in areas such as negotiating player contracts, sponsorship deals and broadcasting rights.

Before making a final decision about Clifford Chance’s offer, Tyra plans to apply for vacation schemes with independent law firms in the UK and US: ‘I am 90% certain that I will start at Clifford Chance but I want to be able to make the necessary contrasts and comparisons, for my future career trajectory a least. I have recently started a LawInSport mentoring scheme after being successfully chosen to be a mentee by CEO Sean Cotterell.’

Tyra will also complete a Rare Articles programme that she first began in June: ‘So far I have visited 11 Law Firms; Magic Circle, US and independent (Best Friends Approach Firms) as part of the development programme. I have commercial fluency coaching sessions at five different points throughout the 12-month programme and my second one is fast approaching. It teaches me how to break down macroeconomic issues and how to clearly express them in interview or simply in conversation ie breaking down M&A deals and understanding how a business operates. The conglomerate company I have chosen to follow is Samsung and I must think about what practice areas of a commercial firm would be involved in set scenarios concerning this company amongst others.’

Tyra’s top tips for fellow aspiring lawyers include:

  • Join LinkedIn and read their daily rundown as well as BBC Business news and the Financial Times to get a sense of the commercial environment and global market. This will enable you to ascertain whether you’re interested in the type of work and clients that commercial lawyers deal with
  • Visit the website of the top firms and see what schemes, open days, insight events they have to offer. Apply, and get the reputable name of the firm in addition to the experience gained on your CV. It opens doors
  • Selectively network, meaning don’t just bombard anybody from a firm with your questions – be courteous in your approach. On that note, Graduate Recruitment are the best people to get in contact with at each firm
  • Do not underestimate the relevance of part-time jobs, voluntary opportunities/societies. These things are what set me apart hugely
  • Start to consider key competency questions that firms look for. These can be found online, wiki, student room anywhere
  • BME students should apply to Rare. It is online and the process is not too long. They have plenty of beneficial programmes and the organisation is run by lawyers who work for the top firms or have worked in these places in addition to graduate recruitment positions and students who hold offers or who have done vacation schemes at these firms
  • Work in a supermarket is just as valid as work experience in a bank. Both are getting to know the type of clients that firms are instructed by
  • Reach out to current trainees on LinkedIn.