My experience as a trainee

Maria Ryan explains why she chose to apply for a Trainee Solicitor position at Bristows — and how she’s found the experience.

Despite really enjoying my degree in Chemistry, I was pretty sure that I was not cut out for a career in the lab and this left me confused over what steps to take after University. During the summer before my masters I spent nine weeks working for a bank; I enjoyed the commercial and client-facing sides of the job but I found myself missing my studies too. After attending the STEM open day at Bristows I realised that work as an IP lawyer would enable me to still be involved in the life sciences sector while also allowing me to work with clients and apply what I had learnt in a commercial context.

Once I had decided to pursue law, there was no question that I would not apply to Bristows – they are a leading firm in intellectual property and both the life sciences and technology sectors. Plus, I had seen for myself that they were a very open and friendly firm that valued people with a science background.

“Everyone involved went out of their way to put me at ease and help me perform to the best of my abilities.”

Before applying, I first attended the Winter Workshop which is a two-day workshop where I was able to learn more about the firm and different areas of law, such as competition and real estate, which were new to me. After the Workshop we were invited to apply for the Bristows training contract by writing a short letter to the firm explaining why we would like to be considered. The training contract interview process then involves two separate interviews where partners will find out more about your background and personality while also testing your critical thinking skills. Although I was nervous, everyone involved went out of their way to put me at ease and help me perform to the best of my abilities.

Once you have received a training contract offer you must complete the GDL (graduate diploma in law) and LPC (legal practice course) which are both a year long. Despite being initially sceptical, I really enjoyed my time studying these courses. It was refreshing, after four years of Chemistry, to be learning about a whole new area. I found the skills I had developed during my degree were invaluable when studying the GDL as good answers required you to be both analytical and methodical. Since starting my training contract I have used the skills and knowledge I gained from the GDL, LPC and my degree as my work ranges from in-depth scientific research to drafting contracts for technology firms. It’s great coming into work now the office has re-opened and there have been some really fun team socials, including a recent team trip to play shuffle board. I would highly recommend applying to Bristows as they offer the opportunity to work on challenging projects with well-known clients while also encouraging you to grow as a person and develop your own skills and interests, both inside and outside of work.

Maria Ryan

Trainee Solicitor


  • MChem Chemistry, University of Oxford
  • GDL, BPP Law School
  • LPC, BPP Law School

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