Episode 2 - Decision-making hacks

In the second of our podcast series on how to give your legal career the best start, we look at decision-making and how you can improve your thought processes.

Episode Two: Decision-making Hacks - transcript

Hi, my name is Alastair and I’m a trainee at TLT.  Today I’m joined by Katie.

Katie:  Thanks, Alastair.  I’m a first-seater.  I’m in the construction team at the moment.

I’m also joined today by Amy.

Amy:  Hi, I’m a fourth-seater in the corporate team at the moment.

We each had a very different route into law and into TLT.  I wondered if you’d both be willing to share your experiences with me and with the people at home.  So, maybe starting with Amy, how was it you arrived at TLT?

Amy:  So, I guess I took quite a traditional path into the career.  I studied law at university, at Bristol actually, and from that, I decided I wanted to be a solicitor.  So I started looking, in the second year of my degree, at firms I’d quite like to train at, some at Bristol and some in London.  I did a vacation scheme at TLT and I also did a vacation scheme at a Magic Circle firm in London, so I had a chance to see two very different cultures, two very different cities, very different work environments.  I decided, from the back of that, that TLT was the place I wanted to train.

Interesting, and what about yourself, Katie?

Katie:  So, I left university and I didn't really know what I wanted to do, like a lot of people, I think.  I found myself working in media, in-house, and whilst I really enjoyed it, after a few years I realised that I wanted to get more into the legal side of things. So, I went back to studying.  I moved to Bristol because I wanted to try out a new city, and I did the GDL and the LPC.  I went to quite a few, sort of, networking events with firms and decided that TLT was the place for me.

My route into law was different, just because it was a non-law degree.  So, I did a politics degree at Edinburgh University, worked for just over a year with charities, and then started my legal career, you might say, studying in Scotland, and then made a switch to study English and Welsh law instead.  So, that’s the route I took.  So, in your case, Katie, what kind of things did you factor into your decision to move into law?

Katie:  I was a bit older.  I’d had a chance to, sort of, get involved in law from an in-house point of view.  I wanted to get more involved in a firm point of view, so that's why I went down the private practice route. TLT specifically, as well, has such a mix of trainees so I felt that it would be somewhere that I could develop and feel quite welcomed.  I was a bit older so it was nice to know that they had a range of trainees that I met at some of the networking events.  Also, to have some responsibility on my vacation scheme that I did.  I actually got a chance to get quite involved, which was nice to know that I didn't have to start right at the beginning again, and that I was a member of the team from day one.

Great.  In your case, Amy, was there anything about the decision you ultimately made to come to TLT that surprised you?

Amy:  Yes.  So, I applied for vacation schemes at TLT, but also at firms in London, and did a vacation scheme at a Magic Circle firm.  That felt, in my mind, the path I would go down because that was the path that everyone at university was taking, and it was very much pushed when I was at university to go for, you know, big London city firms.  What surprised me was that when I did both of my vacation schemes, actually I discovered that that wasn’t really the career path that suited me and I really, really enjoyed my time at TLT.  I think for me, it was the difference between the cultures at the firms. TLT was very open, non-hierarchical, junior members of the team given a lot of responsibility.  So, as Katie was saying, even as a vac schemer, I was in the corporate team.  I was drafting board minutes.  I was getting involved in deals. I knew that as a trainee, I’d be getting a lot of responsibility.  I didn't really feel that was the case at the other firms that I did vacation schemes at.  So, for me it was a surprise that actually, I didn't need to go down the route that all of my friends at university were taking and, kind of, the thing that felt like the thing to do, but actually I should go with the firm that was the best fit for me.

Katie, would you agree with that?  What's your perception on having worked in-house, and now working for the firm as a trainee?  Do you see the work you do as being quite different as well?

Katie:  Yes, it’s very different work. I’m definitely glad I made the move.  As I say, I felt very welcomed and as Amy said, you are given so much responsibility that you don't necessarily feel like a trainee.  You feel that you're actually working in the firm, which is really nice for me. Yes, I think I made the right decision.

For sure. In my case, I think what surprised me was coming from the law course I was doing in Scotland, and then moving down here to continue with my studies, is the amount of support there was, the amount of events that were going on.  TLT put loads of recruitment events together.  They were coming along to our law school and letting you speak to different people at different levels in the firm, and then coming into the office on the vacation scheme, you got a great deal of responsibility as well.  So, yes, it was quite an eye-opener and I felt like I had a lot of information available to me, to help make my decision. Was that the experience you guys had as well?

Amy:  Yes, definitely.  Yes, lots of recruitment events, which were really, really helpful.  I would definitely recommend getting onto some of those if you are interested in finding out a bit more about the firm.

Very much so.  So, yes and on that point, Amy, if you do want to test-drive law, please, anyone at home who’s listening, follow us on social media.  Check us out online to find out more and if you get the opportunity, as Amy was saying, attend any future events you can from TLT Unpacked.

Hi, I’m Susie.  You’ve just heard from three trainees about their decision to join TLT.  I’m going to talk to you a bit more about decision-making.  

So, every day, from the moment we wake up, we have decisions to make.  Did you know that the amount of decisions we make in an average day is about 35,000?  In contrast, young children make around 3,000.  This could include what to have for breakfast, where to go for dinner with friends, that all diets are catered for, or what career move to make.  Some decisions are much bigger than others.  This could include what industry to enter, where to apply, or how many applications to complete.  The decision of what next after university is a big one.

 I’d like you to join me in an experiment.  Let’s imaging you have a crush on someone.  There are butterflies.  Your heart’s pounding.  You have a dry mouth.  You met them at the start of uni and you even have their mobile number from when you were creating a WhatsApp group.  You’ve seen this person in one of your lectures and you're interested, but you're worried.  You're worried they won't remember who you are when you call them.  Honestly, what do you do?  Do you a) call straight away, or do you b) wait until next time you see them?  Most people would say option b) wait until the next time you see them.  The fear attached to short-term emotional factors is much greater when it’s about you.  

How about if I frame this in a different way?  What if this time, I tell you it’s your best friend that's got a crush on someone in their university lecture?  That person’s name is Sam.  So, they met Sam at the start of university, at Freshers’ Week, and they have Sam’s mobile number.  They’re always talking about Sam to you, but your friend is worried that Sam won't remember who they are when they call them.  What advice would you give them?  In all likelihood, you would tell them a) call straight away, but why is this?  It’s because focussing on ourselves can lead to analysis paralysis and decision fatigue.  

In the book ‘Making Better Choices’, Chip and Dan Heath discuss how much easier it is to make decisions for somebody else.  Giving other people advice shortcuts the process of analysis paralysis.  It enables us to bypass our short-term emotions which affect our decisions.  This decision-making hack enables us to be really objective.  Everyone has their own decision-making technique.  Pros and cons, cost-benefit analysis.  The list goes on, but if you’re facing a big decision, you’re feeling confused, why don't you try asking this question?  ‘What advice would I give my friend?’  See if you can get to clarity quickly as well.  So, if you’re considering a career in law, why not check us out online, follow us on social media and attend our future events?