Jonathon Royal

Vacation Scheme converted to Training Contract at both Freshfields and Herbert Smith Freehills

I was raised in a working-class family in a small town in the North-East of Scotland. My family were very strictly religious, and actively prevented me from studying or completing homework for school, as they considered my time better spent on a religious rather than secular education. This resulted in my not achieving the grades in school I was capable of, and the friction created in the household by my leaving the religion led to me becoming homeless when I was 16. This had a detrimental impact on my mental health, and combined with my working-class background, lack of any contacts outside of the religion, and poor grades, a career in law was only an unattainable dream. After a period of time I secured temporary accommodation, and tried several different careers before embarking on a career in hospitality management. After a few years in hospitality management, I discovered I would be interested in a career in law while drafting staff and supplier contracts for a unit I was opening. I reached out to friends of friends who were lawyers, and attended open days at commercial firms. At this stage of my life, I decided I was in a position both financially and mentally to begin pursuing a career in law, and so I enrolled in an Access course at the University of Glasgow, which included a Law module. Having gained a First for this course, I gained entry onto the Scots Law LLB. I subsequently undertook and performed well in several legal-focussed competitions, attended more open days at commercial firms, founded the Glasgow University Commercial Awareness Society to improve students’ commercial awareness and give them free access to resources normally behind paywalls, and with the help of STRIVE I have also secured summer vacation schemes at Herbert Smith Freehills and Freshfields. This journey has been unbelievable for me, that I could come from such a low point in my life to securing two placements at two of my dream firms, and I am excited to experience the next stage of my career in law. 

STRIVE has been such an amazing resource for so many reasons.  My mentor, Lauren Bowie, has been absolutely brilliant. Her detailed advice has been so useful, and the recommendations she has given me for my applications have been invaluable in securing my schemes and AC offers.  The workshops led by Tilly and Sana were great in breaking down the different elements of the application process, and really made everything clear. The workshop explaining the Watson Glaser test in particular stood out as this test has a formidable reputation, but with the help of this workshop I was able to undertake them to a satisfactory level. The support of the STRIVE community has also been such an important resource. Having the advice and support of fellow TC-seekers has been invaluable in navigating the application process, as well as making a daunting and stressful process seem more manageable. Particularly in lockdown, having a community of people to speak to when worried about different issues has been very helpful. 


First-gen University student, Homeless at 16.