Our New Leeds Gap Recruits

Pinsent Masons runs an established Gap-Year programme aimed specifically at students who have completed their A-levels, giving them the chance to gain invaluable insight into the fast paced world of commercial law and boost their CVs for the future. Meet the five Gap Students based in the Leeds office as they introduce themselves and talk about their experiences thus far;

Name: Joseph Ward
School: The Macclesfield Academy
A-Levels: History, Psychology, English Language
University: Law; University of Birmingham
Department: Projects & Construction
How do you find it living in Leeds? Having never lived away from home, and not being local to Leeds, moving here was a big step. Since moving here however, I’ve settled in really well. There’s a great feel to the city and the city centre is packed with shops and bars. My flat (which I can now pay for with my wage) is about a minute walk from the office, a godsend when you need that extra half an hour in bed after an office social!

Name: Abdur-Razzaq Ahmed
School: Tiffin School
A-Levels: Economics, Mathematics and Physics
University: Economics
Department: Corporate & Tax
How would you describe the transition from a student environment to a working environment? I personally found it quite difficult at first, because you are undoubtedly expected to be more mature and organised due to the responsibilities you are given. Having said that, everyone in the firm (not just your department), makes the transition as smooth as possible; there is a good balance between work and play with many work socials and departmental days out organised. My days are also less structured than they were at school; work can come in at 8am or 5:30pm when I’m getting ready to leave!

Name: Caitlin Bradshaw
School: Horsforth School
A-Levels: English Language, History, Chemistry and Mathematics
University: Law
Department: Property
Was the choice to take the Gap Year, particularly with the University fee increase, a difficult one? Not at all! I couldn’t be happier that I’ve done the Gap-Year Programme. The experience is invaluable as there is so much I will be able to take with me to University and even further beyond that; not just from a knowledge perspective. Also, I am thoroughly enjoying my time here; the work is diverse and exceedingly interesting, plus I’ve gotten to know many great people. The thought of £9,000-a-year tuition fees is a daunting one; however the benefits of being on such a prestigious and informative programme, in my opinion, far outweighs the financial cost.

Name: Sairish Tahir
School: Bradford Grammar School
A-Levels: English Literature, History, Latin, Chemistry
University: English Literature
Department: Projects & Construction
Why did you decide on a degree in English Literature followed by a conversion (GDL) to Law? The GDL manages to fit the entire law course in a rigorous 1 year programme for a postgraduate with a non-law degree, essentially allowing you to have two degrees under your belt within 4 years! I think the study of the written word ties into the practice of law quite well; attention to written detail is vital when you’re assessing contracts and casework with a fine-toothed comb! Therefore, it’s great to have the opportunity to study each area and have them benefit and compliment my understanding of the other.

Name: Alex McIntyre
School: Ermysted’s Grammar School
A-Levels: English Lit, Maths, Economics, German
University: Law with German Law; University of Nottingham
Department: Litigation & Arbitration
Did you initially apply for deferred entry beginning 2012? No. I didn’t really think about a gap year until after I had sent off my UCAS form. After I had been offered the job here I wrote to the universities that I had applied to and asked whether I could now be considered for deferred entry. All of them said yes. The opportunity to work at Pinsent Masons is fantastic and universities recognise that!

What does the programme involve?

The Gap Year Students sat down once again to answer some of the more hard hitting questions about the contents of our programme and how they’ve found Pinsent Masons as a whole. What was your biggest fear? Joseph: After getting an offer from Pinsent Masons, I was concerned that my knowledge of Law was rather limited. I had not done any previous work experience and I had not studied Law at any stage in my education. This hasn’t been an issue in reality though. Like most other jobs, you learn most things with experience and familiarity. The open office floor plan also helps, as if you get stuck there are always people around you who are more than willing to help and explain things to you. What would be one tip you would give to someone applying to the Pinsent Masons Gap-Year Programme? Abdur-Razzaq: Consider your answers – when completing your application and even more so during an interview, think about the answers you give. Wherever possible, give examples to support why YOU would make a good candidate. I would also advocate preparing some cases where I’ve faced difficulties or weaknesses; then you may be asked to discuss how you tackled these issues. Remember, the more impressive your examples, the more you stand out! Does the reality of working for a law firm match up to the perception of it? Sairish: Working for Pinsent Masons has definitely helped to shatter any preconceived notions of the law world that I had, in all the best ways possible. I have been able to observe and be a part of the day-to-day workings of the firm, realising just how much time and effort go into securing contracts, liaising with clients and keeping Pinsent Masons firmly on top. I’ve been happily surprised by the friendly and cohesive atmosphere of the office, too – it’s not all case law and negotiation, and it’s nice to have a rapport going with your colleagues at times. Tell us about a difficult task you’ve encountered so far: Caitlin: My department has been highly supportive and considerate in guaranteeing that I settle in as easily and efficiently as possible; particularly in the first few weeks while I was getting acclimatised to the job, my role and how the department works, but by no means should you think that the work hasn’t been interesting, quite the contrary! Like Joe, I think the most difficult aspect of the job I have had to overcome thus far is the lack of specialist legal knowledge. However, you learn very quickly and there is always someone at hand to give a bit of support! How easy has it been to settle into your department? Alex: Very easy! Everyone has been really welcoming. We had a team day out to Bolton Abbey at the end of my first week which really allowed me to get to know people better. Litigation is a great department to be in. The work is varied and there is a lot that a Gap Year student can get involved with, the hours are fairly regular and everyone is really approachable – you can ask anyone a question if you are stuck!