The moment I realised Jones Day, above all the others, was the firm I wanted to join came at the end of my vacation scheme interview. I was asked if I had any questions. Just as I am sure you will, I had prepared a few gems to roll out that showed I had researched Jones Day thoroughly. The problem was, at this interview, I realised none of those formal questions were appropriate. Confused? I shall explain.
In the pursuit of a vacation scheme and training contract you will no doubt be subjected to endless poking and prodding. Interviewers will look to assess your knowledge of law as a career and the firm in question, and look to see how you handle pressure. A well prepared applicant, with a few good questions of their own, can shine. And it was this routine I had been expecting, and preparing for, ahead of my interview at Jones Day. I was certainly caught off guard! Yes, I was put under pressure, but in the end, when it came time to ask those prepared questions, the only thing I found appropriate was to say, ‘thanks, that was fun’* . The interview was not a barrage of competency questions mixed with a formal discussion of the Firm; it was more about actually getting to know me. I thought to myself, if everyone else at Jones Day is anything like these two partners, why would I want to work anywhere else?
The vacation scheme did not disappoint either. Yes, there are many aspects unique to this scheme that at first appear daunting. You will have to find your own work, manage your own workload and know for yourself when you have to seek advice or closer supervision. But, I can say, having had a taste of the non-rotational training system, I would now feel I was missing out if I had accepted a traditional, rotational training contract at another firm. On the vacation scheme at Jones Day I had the freedom to focus on areas of law that interest me and was given a refreshing level of responsibility.
As for those two partners from the interview, there were many more of a similar nature. Often I returned to my office to be surprised at the backgrounds and seniority of those I had been talking with earlier in the day. Everyone I met took the time to have a chat, be it about football, my time at Bristol or the worrying amount of lawyers with boxing gloves in the property department!
On the scheme you are assigned a trainee mentor and an associate mentor. These are two individuals who know exactly what you are going through and are more than happy to help. You’ll soon find, however, that you have an office full of potential mentors, all happy to offer advice.
As part of the scheme there are a number of scheduled events. The business discussion will come and go before you start to worry about it too much, and the negotiation exercise is actually good fun when you forget that you are being observed. Socially, with it being winter, my group of vacation schemers hit the ice too, with varying levels of proficiency but plenty of good laughs.
If someone asked me whether I would recommend they apply to Jones Day, I would say, it depends. If you are outgoing, pro-active and self-assured, without a doubt I would say yes. If you feel you need supervision and do not particularly enjoy meeting new people, then you may find your time is better spent focusing on the many other law firms in London with a more structured training system.
As a final note, I would also strongly recommend the scheme to postgraduates, mature students or career changers. Jones Day doesn’t just recruit penultimate and final year students. Its unique training contract will give you the opportunity to progress a lot faster than the more rigid structure found with the rotational seat system. Jones Day’s training is not for everyone. I feel fortunate to have found the Firm that is the right fit for me.
* Interviewer styles may vary. This is not a suggestion to go unprepared!!