Matthew has recently accepted his Training Contract offer with Pinsent Masons, which he will commence in September 2022 in their London Office.
Matthew is the Co-Founder of The Legal Line Up, which is a platform designed to provide students with an insight into the legal sector, targeting those with a keen interest in commercial law.
He has a keen interest in technology which led him to Co-Found GlobalTechLoop, a platform created to get the insights of industry professionals to individuals interested in technology.
Matthew has a very active presence in the legal community and regularly hosts and participates legal events and webinars.
His interests extend to cover intellectual property and commercial litigation.
[0:00:00.0] Harry Wilde: Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the Legally Speaking Podcast mini-series powered by Kissoon Carr. My name is Harry, head ambassador for Kissoon Carr and host for today’s episode. Today I am delighted to be joined by our guest feature, non-law graduate and future trainee solicitor at Pinsent Masons, Matthew Berrick. Matthew is the founder of the Legal Line Up which he co-founded with six future trainees from both international and Magic Circle firms.
The Legal Line Up is a platform designed to provide students with an insight into the legal sector targeting those with a keen interest in commercial law. Matthew is also the co-founder of Global Tech Loop which is a platform focused on technology by interviewing professionals who work within the sector. From companies including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM as well as the CEOs of companies based in Silicon Valley. Hi Matthew, thank you ever so much for joining us today.
[0:00:48.4] Matt Berrick: Hi, thanks for having me.
[0:00:50.0] Harry Wilde: No worries at all. I wanted to start by asking about your experience as a non-law student. I thought I’d kick things off by saying, what ignited your interest in law and how did you come to the realization that this was the career path that you wanted to pursue?
[0:01:02.6] Matt Berrick: Sure, yes so since I was 15, I have interned in a variety of legal commercial outfits so it’s varied from working for what you see in Crown Court to working for several commercial law firms in the city and eventually going over to San Francisco to intern for a law firm over there. So, I did have a genuine interest in a career in law but I wasn’t aware that I would thrive in a commercial setting until my A-levels when I was studying business and afterwards working in the commercial environment at the regulatory team at the Royal Mail in London.
So, coming from a non-law background studying international relations I have also had a variety of experience that strengthened my communication and negotiation skills. And this ranges from interning in the House of Commons, to working in the United Sates Congress, to being selected by NATO to participate in a negotiation exercise at the front of the Commonwealth office. I then became really interested in technology and then chose to complete the course at Oxford Uni in AI where I delivered a presentation on the future of autonomous vehicles.
So, I think my approach to law was rather layered and my interest that I chose to develop propelled me to a career in commercial law which equally reflects my aspirations with my abilities.
[0:02:07.8] Harry Wilde: Oh, that all sounds brilliant. What advice would you give to non-law students who are looking to get more actively involved in important events such as law career affairs and insight days?
[0:02:16.1] Matt Berrick: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, for the majority of law firms like they look for diversity of thought as your team will know. So, you know coming from a non-law background it is never something that will hinder you. In fact, it is a great opportunity to put your experiences at the forefront of how you package yourself as a candidate. So, to make the most of these events like be sure to research and check the firms that are going to these events before you get there and like do your best to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of that firm.
So, when you approach their stand, albeit virtual at the moment, you will have something memorable to say. I built a strong memory for one recruiter which enabled me to land a spot on the insight day as she remembered my enthusiasm and recognized I had a strong understanding of their firm. She said that I was one of the few people that she had remembered by their face and name. So, make the most of these opportunities as they’re a really good way for you to bolster your chances at applications.
[0:03:02.1] Harry Wilde: Sure, and touching on that how would you utilize the opportunities provided to you I mean and truly derive the most benefit from them?
[0:03:09.4] Matt Berrick: Sure, as you might have seen I recently a created a word document which is kind of accessible to any student and they’re all notes I took at events at insight days and assessment centres. And the one thing I would say is stay diligent and on top of that, the key to success in a training contract application is to stay focused on everything you have learned and stay on top of your notes so that when it comes to the point of actually looking back of when you are doing the application you have a lot to access.
So, to derive the most benefit from these opportunities make sure you’re sharp, focused and prepare questions for the panel ahead of time if you are told who they are so that you can kind of like gear your questions and stuff towards what they specialized in.
[0:03:48.0] Harry Wilde: Exactly, all brilliant tips I must say. And do you think that really did help you see yourself apart from other applicants?
[0:03:53.7] Matt Berrick: Sure, and yes, so in regard to setting myself apart and you know that kind of thing, so attendance and persistence is key. For the nature of commercial law like there are so many law firms out there that are great. There is in fact too many law firms and not enough time. So, narrowing down the firms that truly matter to you and investing time is really important. And investing significant time in researching the firms and attending as many events by that firm as possible is really important to maximize your knowledge and ensure you stand out.
So, more often than not, like especially from the non-law background, we spread ourselves too thin. If you are applying to 20 law firms, you are only investing 5% of your efforts researching the events and you know that kind of thing and researching the firm. Whereas, like if you were to only apply to 5 law firms you would have 20% to spend on each. So, rather than seeing the application processes as having to apply everywhere to get into the one place, I think what set me apart was that I managed my time very well and I spent enough time effectively working on each application to make sure it was strong.
[0:04:46.2] Harry Wilde: That’s absolutely great and having recently received and accepted a training contract offer yourself, what would one piece of advice would you give to aspiring lawyers from a non-legal background hoping to pursue a career in law?
[0:04:58.4] Matt Berrick: I think the big thing I’d say is enjoy it. Remember that this is your training contract as well as much as it is theirs and find out what you want in order to get into a law firm. It’s also about what you need and it’s a long career. And so, we were at the very, very beginning, whilst they need to know that we are committed, you do too. So, for normal applicants I’d break down what you are looking for in the firm and also think about your experiences like you don’t have to spend a week photocopying at a law firm for you to be a good fit. It’s much more valuable to show what you have learned outside of the law in order to reflect what you can bring to the table.
[0:05:29.5] Harry Wilde: Sure, that’s great, and Matt you are always busy in the online legal community. Did you want to give up our audience an insight into each of the platforms you manage, and you can really discuss the inspirations behind the Legal Line Up and the Global Tech Loop.
[0:05:43.2] Matt Berrick: As a non-law applicant like I soon realized there wasn’t really lack of information out there for aspiring solicitors at the time and from graduates that had received and been through the process themselves. I never wanted to create some kind of platform, but I also knew like it should be inclusive and accessible to everyone. So, it was important to enable others to share their experiences and take the focus away from me.
So, I reached out to 7 future trainees that I didn’t know before and they helped co-found the platform with me. This includes Adam, Anabelle and Harry who are all future trainees at Norton Rose Fulbright, Allen and Overy and Baker Mackenzie, as well as Leen who is an international student that has secured her training contracts split between London, Dubai at Clifford Chance. And Blaise who has secured a training contract at Freshfields through the Steven Lawrence scholarship and Gemma, she secured vacation schemes with Linklaters, Clifford Chance and Norton Rose Fulbright.
And the kind of stuff we get up to is we write articles at least twice a week on like commercial awareness topics and application tips as well as having like guest trainees write articles. We also run a range of events in the past with ULaw, EBP, Leeds University, as well as Rob Hanna and the Kissoon Carr team. We also recently ran an internship with Inter Law where we had presenters there from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, bunch of different law firms, Netflix so lots of different stuff going on in that space and yeah, it’s been great.
In terms of the Global Tech Loop that was the platform that I co-founded with Lauren Moore. The initiative is basically driven behind our interest in technology. We kind of want to talk about tech and talk to different professional who you know they really know what they’re talking about and they have the inside scoop of what’s going on. So, we have run a number of different articles with people at Microsoft, Amazon, like I mentioned before.
I spoke to a CEO who was able to change the law in California, now requiring public companies to have a woman on their board and we are also running different events such as women in technology next week with the chief security advisor from Microsoft and a couple of different CEOs are coming to share their insights and their careers.
[0:07:33.0] Harry Wilde: That’s incredible and they both sounds like amazing projects. I wanted to conclude by asking you something that I’d like to ask all of our guests, what changes do you think need to be made within the legal profession to make the career in law more accessible to everybody?
[0:07:45.1] Matt Berrick: I think this is quite a multi-faceted question, particularly because whilst you know a lot of steps have been taken to make the legal profession more accessible there’s still a lot that needs to be done. With the COVID 19 climate we are currently going through, law firms have already adapted massively. It’s become more sophisticated with you know how they recruit. Whilst the legal profession has come a long way, like I certainly believe that the wheels are in motion, for instance, if you are unable to afford to go to London but want to apply for a vacation scheme like before this was a massive challenge, now that vacation schemes are being held virtually as a form of recruitment this enables bucket loads of new applicants like who have potential and ability to succeed previously but couldn’t because they were faced with overwhelming costs. So, it’s kind of unlocking their dream and access to a career at a top law firm in London.
There’s also been steps being taken by the SRA to introduce the SQA as you know to ensure greater mobility to become a qualified solicitor. However, this is only one aspect of accessibility and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done such as eliminating notions of tokenism in order to ensure that the profession becomes more inclusive for all and that’s something that we touched on as well in a diversity and inclusion webinar we ran with a couple of different partners and trainees at international firms.
[0:08:55.9] Harry Wilde: Of course, thank you ever so much for joining us today Matthew. It’s been a real pleasure having you on. Great to hear your insights and also many of the things that you have learnt throughout your legal journey.
[0:09:05.0] Matt Berrick: Yeah, cheers for having me.
[0:09:06.6] Harry Wilde: If you would like to learnt a little bit more about the platforms Matthew is involved in, be sure to follow both the Legal Line Up and Global Tech Loop on social media. You can also head over to their websites to keep updated with all the exciting things they have planned. I hope you have enjoyed today’s episode. Thank you so much for listening.