Ania Soleimani is a second-seat trainee, currently working in disputes. She previously gained work experience with small law firms before joining Norton Rose Fulbright.
Applying for my training contract
I went backpacking for two months with my oldest friend immediately before I started my training contract. I had my offer from Norton Rose Fulbright and I’d saved up some money working at a regional law firm back at home in Manchester. So it was just a sort of last trip before it all started.
I was travelling through South Asia when we first got our materials for the LPC. Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam. I was in Hoi An when I got my log-ins, so trying to do that on a tiny phone screen was interesting.
I took a very textbook path otherwise. I did a three-year law degree, took those six months out, then went straight to the LPC and then to my first seat. I even did the vacation scheme here in my second year at university.
On my vacation scheme, I sat in on a call with an insurance partner, Ffion Flockhart. I’d already known about her because she made partner so young and so quickly. It was great to listen to a woman who’d experienced that much success in her legal career, especially at that early stage.
My second seat
I’m in my second seat now, and both teams I’ve sat in are the same teams I sat in on my vacation scheme – disputes and project finance. It’s funny how that’s worked out.
In project finance, I worked with a senior associate on a client pitch. I didn’t think he’d remember me when I started my training contract. Then he came up to me three months in and said, “I worked with you, didn’t I?” We worked together a lot just after that, so it was good to break the ice - or re-break it, I suppose.
My first big deal
What I love about law is how, particularly in project finance, you can literally be helping develop a country’s infrastructure. It’s really interesting work that’s doing a bit of good too. They’re often quite impressive projects as well.
I got to work on the largest private sector project financing in Jamaica, for the largest power plant there, which is in Old Harbour Bay. That was my first big deal.
They’d begun negotiating the Old Harbour Bay project in the summer just before I joined, so I got to see the documentation through from start to finish. They actually kept me on for an extra week to help close it.
I was quite surprised by how heavily involved I was, considering I was in my first seat. I’d be leading parts of client calls on the Conditions Precedent process. It was terrifying because there were times when I’d be alone in the office and a client would ring from Japan or something – but I loved it. I love being busy and it was great to get that opportunity to be let loose and just do it.
Our New York office issued a legal opinion on a security document for that project and the Paris office was involved too – I actually knew the trainee on secondment. I had huge help from an associate in the Tokyo office as well. She was a lifesaver with all the documentation.
I’ve always been quite keen to give back. That’s something that’s been drilled into me from childhood. That’s why I joined the firm’s charity committee. At the moment, there are three trainees who attend and we take turns sending the minutes round. We get to see how the firm reacts to world events; how the team consider charity requests. It’s nuanced work and I’m really happy to be a part of it.
It’s nice to get to know people from across the firm too. All these people who have a similar desire to get involved and give back in whatever way they can. I hope that with more seniority I’ll be able to do even more.