Year of graduation: 2012
Current place of work: Slaughter and May
After graduating in 2012 Tom untook a Bachelor of Civil Law at the University of Oxford. His study at Exeter provided him with the foundation to which he built his career upon. We talked to him about his time at Exeter and journey thereafter.
What did you do after you graduated?
After graduating from Exeter in 2012, I studied for the BCL at Oxford University. At the time, I focused on commercial-oriented subjects such as restitution of unjust enrichment and conflict of laws. I also studied the law of personal taxation. During the BCL, I interviewed for pupillages with commercial sets in London and secured pupillage with 3 Stone Buildings. Following the BCL, I studied on the bar vocational course (BPTC) at Kaplan Law School. During that year, I privately tutored in trusts law. During pupillage, I decided that the chancery bar was not for me but that I enjoyed the tax aspect of the practice I was developing. I decided I wanted to continue my interest in tax law in a corporate setting. After I qualified as a barrister, Slaughter and May offered me a job as an associate in their tax group.
What skills and knowledge did you develop which helped with your career prospects?
Studying Law at Exeter provided the basis, in terms of skills and knowledge, from which I built my career plans. I threw myself in to mooting in my first year and really enjoyed developing the eye for detail needed to properly prepare for a hearing followed by the thrill of oral argument on my feet. I continued mooting throughout my degree and the analysis skills I developed in doing so were freely transferable to and assisted with my studies. In terms of knowledge, I treated lectures as setting out the basics. The real work for me came before and afterwards. I would dedicate my time to first reading the textbook reading suggested by the course coordinator followed by the core and additional case law/legislation/journal articles. I treated preparation for the seminars and/or tutorials as the test for whether I had taken enough in.
What advice would you give current students?
While many people can build up the knowledge in a particular area to feel confident that they understand a subject and could discuss it with their peers, it is important to remember that that will not appear on your exam results. If you are wishing to pursue a career in law, your exam results will determine whether you make it through the first sift of applications. Therefore, you must quickly develop and hone the skill of effectively studying for and answering university exam questions. Before every exam, find as many practice papers as you can and take them under timed conditions. Structuring articulate, analytical and legible (!) exam answers under time pressure needs to become second nature before the real thing so work out how much time you need to build in to achieve that and plan your time accordingly. The examiner will not see the hours you have spent preparing for an exam; they will just see your paper. Make it count by making it easy for them to award you marks.