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Career Envy

Katrina Murphy: GDL Graduate & Trainee Solicitor at Orrick Career Envy

Katrina Murphy: GDL Graduate & Trainee Solicitor at Orrick
Katrina originally studied Management

Katrina Murphy is currently in her third seat at Orrick, having studied Management with Marketing at Leeds University. Her business focussed degree allowed her to develop commercial awareness as though it was a “second nature” and she believes this gave her a solid grounding in following a career in law...


I am a third seat trainee at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe (Europe) LLP and I studied Management with Marketing at Leeds University.

I hadn't considered law before starting university; I envisaged that I would end up in fashion marketing and therefore had chosen electives in languages and textiles. I first came across law in my second year where one of my modules was business law. I really enjoyed this module, in particular, learning from practicing lawyers and a (somewhat petrifying) judge, and so in my final year I chose employment law as an option.

What I enjoyed most about the law modules was that they weren't taken in the law school – they were business school electives designed for business school students. This meant that they were commercially focused. We would discuss real business problems and look for legal solutions, practically addressed to the particular business needs.

When I started making training contract applications, I was concerned that my work experience was mostly marketing focused, whereas my peers had been on vacation schemes. Consequently, I found a week's placement at a high street personal injury firm. The biggest thing this experience taught me was that I didn't want to specialise in personal injury law! And actually at my training contract interview, my interviewers were more interested in other experience that I had gained, such as my time spent working abroad.

When preparing for interviews I found that the buzz word of careers advisors "commercial awareness" was second nature to me. I was aware of business developments and read the Financial Times and so, unlike many candidates, I was happy to answer these questions.

My interviewers knew that I had not studied law and I honestly think this helped me. Although I was given legal drafting questions I approached these like any other question; with logic and criticism. A lawyer needs to have a critical eye and university work allowed me to develop this key skill.

Once I secured my training contract, I spent two years at law school studying the GDL and LPC. For me, the GDL was quite different from my degree as it was much more abstract. I had become familiar with thinking practically and addressing real problems, so looking at the theory of constitutional law, for example, was a little out of the ordinary. However I found the LPC much more applied.

During law school I felt that I needed to become more familiar with the law in practice and so volunteered with the Professional Support Unit. My role was to attend court with litigants in person and help them through the court process. This was incredibly rewarding and I think important to see the other side of law, that is, something that was different to the non-litigious corporate law I wanted to specialise in.

I think my background in business made me become more focused in what area of law I would like to specialise in. I naturally think commercially and so am veering to a corporate or commercial role. There are constant challenges in these areas, as each matter is completely different with each client having different business needs. Understanding the client's business is essential to providing them with workable business solutions.

I am confident that my non-law degree has assisted me so far in my legal career and has provided a grounding that many law students do not have.

By Katrina Murphy, Trainee Solicitor at Orrick

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