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Gemma Agnew


Name: Gemma Agnew
Year of graduation: 2016
Company:  Ashurst LLP (a global legal firm)
Job Title: Expertise Learning Administrator


Before going to the University of Lincoln I studied Business studies, Politics, Sociology and History at A-level. As the first member of my family to go to university I thought carefully about what I wanted to study and weighed up the pros and cons before taking the plunge. I chose History as it was my favorite subject and one in which I have a reel interest and passion. The course at the University of Lincoln was versatile and allowed me to explore many periods, and areas of history that I had not contemplated before, including ‘Exhibiting the world’ a module lead by subject lead Kate Hill and ‘Men, Sex and Work’ by Helen Smith, both of which explore the political and social agenda within history. The course prepared me for the working environment, as I was able to develop transferable soft skills including: clear written and oral communication, attention to detail and the ability to work independently and part of a team.

I never had a set career plan and I think this is made me work hard throughout University. When it wasn’t term time I was either volunteering or working, trying to gain as much experience as possible to make my CV stand out to a potential employer.

I kept my options open towards the end of my undergraduate degree, as I was unsure whether to continue my education and do a Masters degree, or accept a job offer in London. I accepted the job offer and now live in London with my partner.

Employment Experience

As part of the Expertise team at Ashurst a large part of our role is to help the lawyers maintain the standard of excellence they set for themselves. This is done through regular legal training, which ensures the lawyers are up-to-date on the law, economic climate, and wider business and social issues. I am responsible for the legal training for five departments; Banking, Competition, Investment Funds, Financial Regulation and Pro bono. Although all the departments are held to the same standard they manage their training differently, this means I have to be able to adapt to their different requirements.

Legal training is often spread throughout the week and there is usually a training session every day, this requires me to be very organised and manage my time effectively. I am responsible for the administration of the training session, which involves, but is not limited to: reserving rooms, ordering food, liaising with speakers, preparing materials, booking video conferences/dial-in details and logging attendance on an Learning Management System. In addition to this, I am on hand before and after the session to ensure its smooth running and accommodate any last minute requests and/or issues that may arise.

Although my role is based in London, I am also involved in training at our other offices where our lawyers are attending online. (Offices including; Glasgow, Paris, Brussels, Munich, Madrid, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and more).

I assist with client events hosted by Ashurst of which there are usually several in a month which requires a lot of pre-planning many events are booked months in advance.

My standard hours are 8.30 am – 4.30 pm but with flextime this means I am often required to come in early and/or leave late. I can claim overtime for any hours outside of my contracted 40 hour week.

Ashurst offers a range of financial and welfare benefits including: an onsite doctor and dentist, pension plan and canteen.

Using University of Lincoln's Career Services

Services Used: KickStart Programme & Drop-in career advice service held by Helen and Judy

I benefitted for the KickStart Programme, which was run over a few weeks during term time and consisted of various sessions that were tailored to various stages of the recruitment process, including how to write your CV, do’s and don’t during interviews, how to conduct yourself and portray a good impression etc. The KickStart programme also helped me to think about different types of jobs that would suit me but of which I was previously unaware.

I visited Helen through the one-to-one drop in service to get advice on what would make my CV stand out to a potential employer. Judy also helped me with the application process including: educational and personality tests, telephone interviews, group interviews, and individual interviews.

Best Career Advice

I would say be flexible. It’s great if you have a job in mind for when you leave University bit lots of people don’t, me included, and that’s okay too. I had no idea what I wanted to do, yet I would describe myself as driven and career minded. In that situation my advice would be to build up your skills set and get some experience in a professional environment to make sure you can tick as many boxes on an application as possible.

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