Essential tips for applying to Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells’ deadline for training contract applications for law students is 31 July. Law students cannot apply until they have their second year exam results.

The firm recommends non-law students apply in January of their final year for a training contract, although the official deadline is mid-March. Non-law graduates who want a career change should apply between autumn and spring.

Hogan Lovells’ graduate application process

Candidates have to register to complete the application form. Once registered, they receive an email with log-in details to let them review and edit applications. The overall application process consists of:

  • Registration
  • Application form
  • Online critical thinking test
  • Another critical thinking test completed at the assessment day
  • Group commercial exercise
  • Partner interview

Hogan Lovells’ training contract application form

When filling in the online application, it’s possible to click back and forth through pages, save progress and return to a summary page which displays a tick when the following key sections are completed:

  • Education
  • GDL and LPC status
  • Languages
  • Work experience
  • Competency questions

After submitting the form, the candidate is sent a confirmation email.

Impress Hogan Lovells’ recruitment officer

Catherine McGee, recruitment officer at Hogan Lovells, says that when considering applications she looks for strong academic ability and evidence of an interest in commercial law: ‘Even if the candidate hasn't had had direct experience of commercial law, we need to see evidence that they’ve thought about why they want to work for us and why commercial law particularly appeals to them. Catherine is also a stickler for a typo: ‘we pick up on every typo or grammatical error in an application form. We generally say that we’ll forgive up to five errors if the overall application is impressive’.

Key competency questions on Hogan Lovells’ training contract application form

The competency questions are where a candidate can differentiate themselves from the other 3,500 applicants who apply to the firm annually for vacation schemes or training contracts. The following questions have a maximum character count of 1,500 and present an opportunity to demonstrate skills and abilities necessary to be a City lawyer. Here’s some tips to help you out:

Question: We are fortunate to have recruited many talented people who have made an outstanding contribution to the firm over the years – both individually and as part of the wider team. Describe something you do or have done as part of a team that makes you stand out?

Tip: Read the question carefully. You are not being asked about a leadership role, you are being asked for the time you worked as part of a team (you may even have been in a minor support role). The recruiters are looking to see that you will work hard towards an end goal. Look back over your past experience and at any group projects you have been involved in. This could have been during a part-time restaurant job, a university class project or, even better, something you did on a vac scheme or work experience day at a law firm. Analyse what you did as part of the team and find the key aspect of your role. How did it contribute to the result of everyone’s efforts? Did you have to step in to rescue the work of one of your team mates? Or perhaps it was your morale-boosting personality that kept everyone on target. Find your own team-based strengths and show the recruiters how you contributed.

Question: Our clients expect a lot from their legal advisers in a competitive global market; describe an occasion when you have felt compelled to put yourself out to provide assistance or a service to others. Why was it important to go the extra mile?

Tip: This is a business-facing question. Hogan Lovells puts a strong focus on its financial and corporate seats, and keeping clients happy will be a major factor in these roles. Look for examples from your work experience, legal or not, where you have had to go the extra mile to keep a customer happy. Perhaps this was going above and beyond in a sales job to tailor an order to the customer’s liking, resolving a complaint in an unexpected and innovative way, or maybe you enacted a new plan to help a particular type of customer in a shop or restaurant. What was the result? Did it come out as you expected? Better? Try to tie together the actions you took and how they affected the final outcome.

Question: Life can be unpredictable and stressful at times, and it is the nature of our business that some things are not always within our control. Describe an occasion when you found yourself having to respond to an unexpected situation. How did you demonstrate your resilience?

Tip: You could use any example here from any aspect of your life. If you had to care for a relative with an illness or look after children at short notice when you were not experienced, these would demonstrate a degree of resilience. Likewise, travel experience where you’ve undertaken a major feat of exploration or physical endurance would work. While climbing Kilimanjaro has become somewhat of a cliché for law firms, any project that was subject to environmental conditions or sudden changes in plan could show that you’ve got the resilience recruiters are looking for. Break down the facts of the experience and look at how you behaved and how others behaved toward you, and explain how you ended up with the final situation.

Hogan Lovells’ critical thinking test

Candidates whose application forms make the cut are asked to complete an online Watson-Glaser critical thinking appraisal. Each question should take about five minutes to complete and requires ‘the careful acquisition and interpretation of information, and the subsequent application of that information to reach a well-justified conclusion’. Candidates who are invited to the assessment day complete a different version of the test on the day. There is a practice test hosted on the firm’s website.

Our 'How to get hired' articles are written by TARGETjobs editors and writers with job candidates in mind, helping you research and understand employers. Copyright of all material written by TARGETjobs lies solely with GTI Media.