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Five minutes with... Lydia Block, graduate talent advisor at Taylor Wessing

What really stands out in an application form?

Applications are increasingly competitive so it is ever more important to stand out in this area. Taylor Wessing gives candidates a platform to be able to do this across an application form. Of course, we are interested in your academic qualifications – there is no getting away from this being an important part of the process – but just as important is getting across your commercial awareness and outside interests. We are looking to recruit candidates who can bring something unique to the team, add different experiences and contribute new ways of thinking into the discussion. We want to understand what motivates you to join this industry, and what you want to achieve.

How can candidates get across their commercial awareness in an application?

There are various opportunities for applicants to demonstrate their commercial awareness in an application. Whether the application form asks for your take on a particular business issue, your predictions for the future, or even assessing your understanding of our firm and the sectors and clients we work with – there is plenty of scope for applicants to get across their ideas. This again will be tested at the final-round assessment centre, and an area we focus on across our open and insight days.

How do you assess vacation scheme students?

Our Summer Vacation Schemes run for two weeks each. Our students experience a different seat each week, where they are allocated a supervisor and trainee buddy. At the end of the week, our supervisors will hold appraisal meetings with their students, in order to feedback on their performance and we take this into account when it comes to making the training contract decisions. Of course, our students are given work from their teams – anything from drafting notes to attending client meetings, as well as the group presentations they must work on throughout the scheme. There are many networking events and information sessions organised, and students are encouraged to make the most of these and really experience life at Taylor Wessing. We are thus able to build up a well- rounded and robust picture of our vacation schemer's performance, which will form a base for our training contract offers.

How can people make up for the fact that they haven’t done any work experience at a law firm?

It's great if you are able to show you've completed legal work experience. We do recognise, however, that not everybody has the opportunity to do this by the time you apply to a vacation scheme. It is just as important to show you have a real drive and enthusiasm for the law, and the firm you have applied to. Why law? What this particular firm? What experiences have you had that make you sure this is for you? How do your skills relate to those of a future trainee? These are all questions that we will ask ourselves when we look at your application form. It is also handy to include any other relevant work experience that you have had, and how this has contributed to your decision that a career in the legal industry is right for you.

How can somebody make the right impression at a law fair?

The best impressions tend to be created by asking questions where the answer cannot be found from our website. The questions that are clearly thought out and genuine always get a good response, and it's hugely fulfilling to see when we've really shed some light on a particular issue for a student.

What skills and competencies do you look for candidates to demonstrate on assessment days?

Our final round assessment centres consist of the group discussion exercise and commercial awareness case study and interview. Throughout the whole assessment day experience, we will not only be looking for potential future lawyers, but also business advisors – it’s becoming increasingly important that we're able to think commercially for our clients. In addition to commercial awareness, we will be looking at how you interact and build relationships with others, your ability to work within a team.

Law firms tell us that they try hard to encourage STEM students to apply for training contracts. The link between law and science may not be an obvious one. Why do scientists make good lawyers?

Scientists have a huge range of skills that can be transferred into the legal profession. Their ability to communicate and present, problem solve, write detailed and factually correct reports; not to mention their ability to extensively research an issue and come up with an evidence-based recommendation, all translate into the daily workload of a lawyer. Additionally, scientist's logical thinking, problem solving skills and ability to plan, provide the ideal platform for a successful transition into law.

How can non-law students show their commitment to a career in law when they haven’t necessarily been exposed to university law societies, law clinics and mooting events?

There are many ways through which non-law students can show their commitment to law. Most law firms hold open days and insight days specifically targeted at students from a non-legal background. This is a chance to spend some time with a prospective firm, finding out the opportunities available to you and understanding the application process and experiencing the company culture. Non-law students are also able to apply for most summer vacation schemes, which they are automatically considered for training contract positions. Additionally, there are a number of online publications available to students that give an insight into the different law firms, their industry focus, trainee reviews and much more information to help any non-law students to make an informed judgement about firms that interest them.

Please note this is not TARGETjobs content and written by the employer.

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