15 February 2018

By trainee solicitor Guinevere Wentworth 

'Why do you want to be a lawyer?' I was asked that during my first week of work experience in an attempt, I think, to put me at my ease as I clearly wanted to be a lawyer. Instead, I panicked and mumbled something about it looking interesting, as I had no answer to that simple question. I just did and always had done.

Throughout university people would ask me and I still never had anything to say. When I was invited to interview at Burges Salmon, I knew that I could no longer dodge the question. So I sat down and started to try to explain what it was that made me want to be a lawyer.

Whatever reason you have for becoming a lawyer (and you can want to be a lawyer for any reason) make sure that it fits with where you are applying and is logical. It is worthy to say you want to work with people to uphold their human rights but that will not explain why you are being interviewed in a commercial law firm’s office.

Not all of these will suit you but hopefully at least one, or elements of them, will resonate and help you answer this question.

Problem solving

It is a cliché to say that you want to become a lawyer to help people but that is what attracted me.

Lawyers solve people's problems for them. For example, a client may say that they want to buy a particular business but are unsure what steps they need to take. We help them achieve that goal by working out the best way to buy that business and then help them do it. It may get lost in the bigger projects as you find yourself on a phone call negotiating figures in a document but you are in reality working towards solving a problem for someone.


It may be that looking through a 300 page document for typos and checking cross-references does not appeal to you. If that is the case then I will say that it is likely to happen at least once in your training contract. On the other hand, this is a task you can pass on to trainees once you are a qualified lawyer..

Detail, however, makes the law tick. Whether it is checking wording or looking through pages of FCA guidance to try to find the answer to a question, you will end up looking at things in detail.


Working in the law means that you will deal with people. It is a client-facing industry and you will have to liaise with clients on the telephone, in meetings, via email and at events. This may not appeal to everyone but a good firm will make sure that you are comfortable. Burges Salmon has been good at slowly increasing the exposure we have with clients rather than dropping us in at the deep end.

Getting the chance, however, to work with varied people who all want different things and will express themselves in different ways is an exciting challenge. Law lets you mix thinking on your feet with connecting with people from a number of fields and areas in a way that other industries do not. As I say above, you are helping people and that means that you get to work with them.

Key contact

Holly Fey

Holly Fey Head of Resourcing

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Why do I want to be a lawyer?

Law lets you mix thinking on your feet with connecting with people from a number of fields and areas in a way that other industries do not.
Guinevere Wentworth, Trainee Solicitor

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