Name: Eloise Skinner

Job title: Associate at Cleary Gottlieb

Back story: Eloise spent her first few years on an East London council estate, and grew up in a very musical household (her parents are both musicians).  Eloise went to Cambridge to study Law and graduated with a First Class degree.  She is the author of Law Society publication the ‘Junior Lawyers’ Handbook’.  You can find Eloise on social media: @eloiseallexia. 

Who or what influenced you to train as a lawyer?

I’ve always loved working with language – being able to shape and form a phrase or an argument; debating with other people; interpretation, nuance and structure.  I love reading, writing and analysis – so law has always been a great fit.

What do you now know about the legal profession that you wish you knew before pursuing a career in law?

A career in law gives you so many skills that you can carry with you for the rest of your life.  You’ll learn how to be an effective negotiator, a skilled drafter, an expert at time management and a trusted advisor – and so much more!  These are all elements of professional development that you can take with you, whichever direction you eventually go in.

What does success mean to you?

Creating work that I’m proud of: work that I feel is contributing to the world in a positive way.

Imagine a time when you felt like giving up. What helped you bounce back?

I try and stay connected to the fundamental purpose of what I’m doing.  Any goal, any ambition, any task – it’s usually achievable if you know exactly why you want to achieve it.  For me, endurance and perseverance have always come from a deeper sense of meaning and purpose.

What advice would you give to your younger-self?

Be more honest with yourself about what you’re interested in, and why. Say no to the things that don’t align with that answer.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt about life and/or work outside a formal education setting?

There’s always an opportunity to reframe a situation.  Nothing has to be a failure unless you define it that way.  You get to choose how to respond to the events that happen to you.

Which life skill has proved most helpful in your professional endeavours?

The ability to listen and learn.  The times at which my professional development has most accelerated are always the times during which I’ve had great mentors and teachers, and when I’ve carefully listened to their wisdom.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to students / career changers who are considering a legal career?

Be clear on why you want to pursue a legal career.  The reason can change over time, but make sure you stay connected to it.  This will become your fuel at the moments you feel exhausted or overwhelmed.