Gabriella Masding is a trainee solicitor at Allen & Overy LLP. She studied Modern History from 2014 to 2018 at the University of St Andrews before completing the Graduate Diploma in Law in 2019 and the Legal Practice Course LLM in 2021.
How was your experience studying at St Andrews? Do you think your History degree has supported you in your legal career?
I loved every minute of my time at St Andrews and carry extremely fond memories. St Andrews is a great institution; combining academic rigour with a broad range of extra-curricular activities.
One of the key benefits of a history/humanities degree was the transferable skill-set. For example, building disciplines in: research, structured debate, distilling complex thoughts, and presenting arguments. I had some great tutors (especially in my honours years) and they really emphasised the importance of this skill-set. Indeed, soliciting regular feedback and learning from every piece of work is a skill I regularly use now as a trainee.
What previous work and extracurricular experience did you gain which supported your personal and professional development?
I worked a lot to improve my CV. I was committed to a range of extra-curricular activities at St Andrews (something I would recommend to everyone). With regard to my personal development, I played golf and other team sports. On a professional level, I joined Playfairs Consultancy to get a taste for commercial work in the real-time business environment.
During the summer holidays, I applied for a range of internships in order to get involved in the commercial world and/or commercial law; examples included working in a bank and an aircraft leasing business.
Why did you decide to convert to law and what drew you to Allen & Overy?
I realised I was attracted to a career in law during my last year of university. I was fixated on a career in banking but soon realised that the quantitative elements required did not suit my skill set. Law was a perfect match with the humanities skill-set I had acquired.
I narrowed my target firms down to a small number and built a set of criteria; international placements, seat variety, investment in training, and commitment to diversity and inclusion. Then I researched each firm against the criteria, rated each firm, and built a ranking. I can honestly say that Allen & Overy was ranked first!! As such, I was committed to giving myself the best chance to gain a training contract.
Subsequently, I conducted a lot of research into Allen & Overy – I reached out to as many people as I could but also undertook much reading and writing into their deal history. The research confirmed my ranking; Allen & Overy is a global, innovative, and commercial law firm focusing on complex and interesting deals for a broad and interesting range of clients. Finally, during the recruitment events, I realised how friendly and collaborative the Allen & Overy team were. As an aspiring young woman, I found Allen & Overy to be a diverse and supportive workplace.
How did you find your Graduate Diploma in Law and your Legal Practice Course?
Personally, I found the GDL and LPC a challenge in terms of the new content. It was a totally different skill-set to the academic nature of my university degree. That being said, it was very rewarding – Allen & Overy were a great support throughout the process. I never felt alone or isolated and my colleagues were also very kind.
How has your first seat been so far and what are you most looking forward to for the rest of your training contract?
My first seat has been in Structured & Asset Finance and I have really enjoyed it so far. For the remainder of my training contract, I am looking forward to receiving more exposure from the other seats – there is such a variety of choice at Allen & Overy!
I am also hoping to get involved with pro-bono work and community investment projects that I am interested in. Allen & Overy have so many avenues for growth – I would like to get involved in as much as I can!
Do you have any advice for students interested in a career in commercial law?
Do reach out and get in touch if you have any questions. Additionally, the GROW mentorship scheme (recently set up by an Allen & Overy trainee) has been extremely successful. As a mentor myself, I aim to provide as much support as possible to my buddy. I would encourage you to sign up and to get involved.