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Answering the CMS Cameron McKenna application form questions

Pick out specific details about the firm that interest you and give reasons why.

Application questions remain the same regardless of whether you’re applying for a vacation scheme or training contract. The first two questions on the application form are given below; the third asks applicants to list extracurricular activities.

In 200 words, how can CMS ensure it remains competitive within the legal market?

How to approach:

Your answer could incorporate some of the following thoughts:

  1. CMS’ clients work in certain areas of business. You probably shouldn’t question the firm’s business model, but theoretically you could identify similar clients CMS currently doesn’t represent and question why that is (location might be a factor, for example). How then would you suggest CMS implements reaching those clients?
  2. It’s all about putting the image of CMS as professional and learned in their expertise into the minds of the masses, so think about training. How does CMS keep its practising solicitors ahead of the curve, and what other training does it need to consider in future in order to keep that trend going?
  3. You have to breed a competitive culture to be competitive in a market, so how does the organisation transmit that to its employees? Cash incentives are one thing, but organisations don’t want their staff to rest on their laurels – so is an element of internal competition beneficial (and does that fit CMS’ ethos?)?
  4. Think about the markets that CMS is competing in and, thanks to its network of overseas offices, the countries it is now competing in too. Where else in the world should CMS be represented, considering the markets it focuses on?

In 200 words, why do you want to be a commercial lawyer at CMS?

How to approach:

  1. If you give good reasons as to why you want to work at CMS, your interest in commercial law will come across naturally. You don’t have much space, so be clear in why you think commercial law is particularly interesting at CMS. Use your own experience in law, whether at a vac scheme, open day or recruiter meeting, to say why you want to do commercial law and then narrow it down to why you want to do it at the firm.
  2. The point of this question is to convey that you have done your research on the firm and thought seriously about how your background and ambitions fit in. Show you have an understanding of the firm’s range of practice areas (an important part of its identity), but at the same time pick out details that specifically interest you and give reasons why. You might, for example, be drawn to CMS’ large energy department (twice the size of its corporate and banking wings) or its ever-growing tax department. You could also show your awareness of and interest in a niche area, such as immigration.
  3. Consider other features of the firm. Does the CMS network interest you? Why? Is there anything to add about CMS’ much-lauded Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and pro bono work?
  4. Whichever area you choose, it’s good to mention a recent deal or development that interests you. Again, because of space restrictions, it needs only be a passing mention, but weave details like this into your answer and you’re more likely to be invited to the assessment day and questioned on those issues at further length in interviews.
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