Everyone in the firm wants you to do well Alexandra Gower
Partner Bristol

Why did you want to pursue a career in law?

I studied Biology and Geography at university but took the opportunity in my summer holidays to get work experience in law to see if ultimately it was the career for me. Doing that formal and informal work experience and speaking to a family friend who was a lawyer confirmed that it was. I was attracted by the fact it appealed to my analytical ability and natural desire to solve problems.

Why Osborne Clarke?

I found out about OC at a law fair while I was at university, applied for a vacation scheme and spent a week at the firm at the end of my final year. From the moment I first came into contact with OC it was the culture that attracted me. Everyone made me feel welcome and I soon realised that the open and friendly culture was displayed by everyone at the firm. I can honestly say that hasn’t changed in the 15 plus years I’ve been here.

How has your training contract OC aided your career as a lawyer?

I’m OC “born and bred” having trained here between 2004 and 2006. The training contract gave me the ability to experience four very different areas of law, all of which I enjoyed for different reasons. I felt properly supported by my supervisors, as I have throughout my career, and surrounded by experts in their areas of law. The grounding you receive in your training contract at OC is invaluable to starting life as a well prepared and confident (but not too confident!) qualified solicitor.

What drew you to qualify into construction?

Construction was my first seat and I spent my time on largely contentious matters. I was lucky to be trained by John Redmond, now retired, who was one of the leading construction lawyers at the time. He gave me a fantastic insight into this area of law and its many facets. Ultimately it was his guidance that “sold” construction to me, plus the fact that at the end of my work there is a tangible, built project to see.

As someone who has progressed from trainee to partner, how would you describe that process?

Anyone will tell you that the road from trainee to partner is inevitably a fairly long one, with ups and downs along the way. At the time I started that journey OC was just beginning to put in place the framework it has now for career progression. I can honestly say that the current framework is as open and transparent as it can be and makes that route, in some ways, easier than it was when I started it. Everyone in the firm wants you to do well and I had an amazing mentor in Catherine Wolfenden during my time as an Associate Director. I would highly recommend a mentor to anyone at all stages of their career as I think the insight they can give is invaluable.

Do you have any trainee supervisor experience and how do you support your trainees?

During my time at OC I have been a trainee supervisor and am now a trainee supervising partner for our team and a member of OC’s Trainee and Apprenticeship Leadership Group (TALG), as joint Trainee Location Partner for the Bristol office. Our trainees are offered excellent training and support. We have a fantastic set of trainee supervisors who have all undergone supervision training and offer great day-to-day support to our trainees. They are supported by the trainee supervising partners and the TALG. As you’d expect we have regular catch ups with our trainees and as Trainee Location Partner we have lunch with the trainees in our location every few months and our metaphorical door (we work in an open plan office) is always open.

What does Osborne Clarke look for throughout the recruitment process?

I’ve been involved with trainee recruitment for several years now. The people who stand out are those whose initial application form shows a real interest in pursuing a career in law, those who have sought out various opportunities to experience what the law is like. There are so many ways of gaining experience, such as; shadowing the clerks in your local court for a few days, volunteering at a law clinic, work experience at a small high street firm or a formal vac scheme, and I would always recommend that prospective trainees try to sample as many as possible as you may find you enjoy something unexpected.

On our assessment days we’re not necessarily looking for people with a detailed knowledge of the law but rather who we think would be a good cultural fit for OC. We’re proud of our culture and our trainees are the people we hope will be here for the long-term, taking that culture forward with them. We also want people who can work in a team and are commercially aware.

What is your biggest achievement or personal highlight?

My biggest achievement was undoubtedly making Partner in May 2019. It was the culmination of many years’ hard work and a lot of time and personal investment. It was what I had always set my mind on doing and so I was proud to have achieved it.

Can you provide some information about different aspects of the job as you progress, eg increased focus on client service, winning work, team management, developing others etc?

One thing that changes as you move through your career is that the balance of what you do moves from almost 100 per cent fee earning to a balance of fee earning, client management, winning new clients and team and firm management. As you progress your technical excellence in your area of law is expected as a given, it is how you contribute beyond that which counts equally.

How does the firm support you as you progress from Associate to Partner?

OC now has a clear and supportive process in place, which is much clearer and transparent than it was when I started my journey. Every fee earner has sight of what is expected of them at each point in their career and the HR and Career Development Teams are there to support you along the way.

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