Innovative ideas from Gap Students before they say farewell

Julian Tonks was an esteemed Senior Partner at Pinsent Masons. He was a major driving force in the firm’s growth through a series of mergers which turned Pinsent & Co into Pinsent Masons, now one of the leading international commercial law firms. In the midst of these milestone developments, Mr Tonks was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Sadly, he passed away in 2014. In his memory, Pinsent Masons has offered its Gap Year placement students the opportunity to enter an essay writing competition with a grand prize of £500.

The question this year was: What initiative or strategy might Pinsent Masons introduce in 2015 in order to maximize the contribution of and opportunities for existing and prospective Pinsent Masons staff?’

A question of this breadth led to a variety of innovative solutions from my fellow Gap Year students. The inspiration for my idea came from the research I undertook in preparation for my interview for the Gap Year placement. My response involved the implementation of a ‘Legal and Business Advice Clinic’. Such an initiative, I argued, would allow Pinsent Masons to engage lawyers at the junior end, from trainees to NQs, with support from its more senior lawyers. This would mean that our trainees and junior lawyers can gain more experience in client advising and independent research, which would supplement the work they do for our formal client base, and expose them to the practical side of the legal profession, beyond the LPC textbook. It would allow us to make use of our wide client base and community partners to provide basic legal support to local start-up businesses. Although it may seem unprofitable to give free legal advice, I argued that it is more beneficial for the firm to be approachable and connected to local businesses than it is for it to be exclusive and isolated.

Having been fortunate enough to win this competition, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Tonks’ wife and his son, Ann and Harry Tonks as well as Greg Lowson, a partner in Litigation, and the firm’s current Senior Partner, Richard Foley.

With my time at Pinsent Masons coming to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage all those who are considering a career in the legal profession to apply for the Gap Year programme. It has been a fantastic 8 months and my time with the firm has been invaluable. I cannot emphasise strongly enough how useful this placement is. Now, onto travelling and university!