Tayo David is a second-seat trainee, currently working in Asset Finance. Originally from London, she studied French and Spanish at Durham University before returning to her home city to join Norton Rose Fulbright.
The first time I actually had any interaction with Norton Rose Fulbright was when they came to speak at my university and brought a few trainees with them to tell us about their experiences. The weird thing is, one of them is actually on my team now as an associate. I guess it’s funny the way things work out.
At that initial meeting, I remember what really stood out to me is how open they were. The presentation made it plain to all of us that everyone would have an equal shot in their application, no matter their background, their subject, their university.
That was really important for me as a non-Law student. When I first started doing university applications in Upper Sixth, my mum gave me some good advice. She told me; you’re young, do something else you love at university, then if you still want to do law after that, you’ve got the option.
So that’s exactly what I did: I studied French and Spanish, then the firm paid for me to go to law school before my training contract.
An international interview
That background also really informed my interview at the firm. I’d lived in Barcelona and Paris on my placement year abroad at university, so the partners focused a lot of their questions around that. We spoke a lot about Catalan independence and the economic implications for Spain, as well as about the European Union.
Your interview obviously might not feel like fun at the time, but looking back, the conversations we had were around genuinely interesting topics. The partners had read my profile, taken note of it, then tailored their questions to my background. I really appreciated that as an early impression of the firm.
The international aspect was certainly a big part of what initially attracted me. More or less all the deals you’ll work on are completely international. You’ll be working with clients and lawyers all over the world, every day. For me, it’s fascinating to see how the laws of different countries compare and interplay.
That’s an interest that definitely played out in my first seat. I was working in dispute resolution with a partner who specialises in insurance disputes but also in cyber risk advisory work. We’d be advising clients who’d suffered, for instance, a cyber attack or a breach of their technology.
Your goal there is to look at what data’s been compromised, who’s been affected, what the next steps are and whether they need to notify the regulators. The problem is, the requirements are different across jurisdictions, so you’ve really got to do your research to know the right action to take in different parts of the world.
I think my experience in that seat is also indicative of the support and opportunity you’ll find here. I wanted to get a little more involved in insurance work on that seat, so that I could experience as much as I possibly could.
I wasn’t sure how to approach that conversation, but my mentor couldn’t have been more supportive. He just said to me; be confident, show that you’re keen, do some background reading on the files. If you’ve armed yourself with the knowledge, your supervisor will be really impressed with that.
When I finally did bring it up, the team went absolutely out of their way to help me. Even though it was complicated work, especially for a first-seater, they made sure I was included on calls and got a good overview of various insurance cases. To me, that just shows that the firm will always take on-board what your interests are and do their utmost to help you.
Having that kind of support around – your supervisors, your mentors, your trainee buddy – it’s so valuable to your development. That’s a big part of why I volunteered myself as a buddy for the First Step programme.
I was paired with a girl who’s in her first year of university and I became her first point of contact during the week. Now, if she has any questions or needs support with the vacation scheme application process, she knows she can come to me.
Making your own network
I’m also involved in both the WIN (Women in Norton Rose Fulbright) network and the Origins network, for BAME colleagues. I’ve been to panels on gender parity and what it means to both men and women in the firm. I’ve been to Divali celebrations, Black History Month talks, and Chinese New Year celebrations. There are so many perspectives and so many events to attend.
There’s a lot of opportunity to be sociable here too - and you can get involved as much or as little as you want to. I’m from London and all my friends and family are here, but for other people it's not like that. Some trainees have moved to London for the first time, so their closest friends are within our cohort. Either way, you feel very supported; you know you’re not alone.