Why Jones Day?
When I began applying for placement schemes in my penultimate year of University, I was overwhelmed by all the choice. Despite thoroughly researching firms on their websites and attending numerous open days, I struggled to differentiate between them. Though they all claimed to be ‘different’ and ‘unique’, it was challenging to ascertain what exactly distinguished one firm from another. This was not the case with Jones Day. As soon as I read about their nonrotational training contract system, I felt that this was a place that offered an experience like no other law firm in the City. I was attracted by the high-level of responsibility placed on trainees and the opportunity to experience a broader range of practice areas compared to the traditional (rotational) training system. Unlike the rotational system, where I risked being assigned to an area I might not enjoy for six months, the Jones Day experience would allow me to focus on my strengths.
How was the interview?
My impressions of the firm were proven correct when I attended the interview for my placement scheme. Unlike other firms, which put me through video interviews, assessment centres, and aptitude tests, Jones Day’s interview involved a challenging but enjoyable chat with two partners. Rather than trying to catch me out with the bizarre interview questions I’ve heard from others, the Jones Day partners focused on my experience and background, my motivation for working with the firm, and why I thought I was suited for a career in law. Instead of testing my commercial awareness through mock activities, they grilled me on my opinions on current topics and world issues of my choice.
I came out of the session feeling as if I had just had a great intellectual conversation with two brilliant people.
What were your “first day” impressions?
When I arrived on the first day of the placement scheme, it was immediately apparent that the firm was a welcoming place. Our introductory session included partners, associates, and trainees, all of whom gave us advice on how to make the most of the scheme. This was followed by a delicious lunch where we had the opportunity to meet our trainee ‘buddy’ and associate ‘mentor.’ These people served as a link to the rest of the firm and were there to go to for our first piece of work, to advise us on the ins and outs of the training system, and to support us throughout the scheme. My buddies made me feel at ease; it was wonderful to be able to go for a coffee with them to chat informally about my placement scheme experience.
What’s the placement scheme really like?
Following the welcome lunch, we were released to ‘walk the floors’ to look for work. This aspect of Jones Day is what truly makes it such a unique place. The fact that placement schemers and trainee solicitors find their own work creates a flat hierarchy as there is constant interaction with lawyers of all levels throughout the firm. The open-door policy is more than a marketing slogan: it is essential for this way of training to work; so, it is common to see partners interacting with trainees. This kindness and openness extended beyond just the lawyers at the firm. The staff in the canteen were exceptionally welcoming and immediately treated us as part of the firm. The same was true for the graduate recruitment team, who were on hand to offer advice and support if we were struggling with knowing how best to juggle our work demands – something you need to learn if you are to train the Jones Day way.
The social aspects of the scheme were a great way to get to know people in a more casual context. Events such as ice-skating and tapas at Somerset House, pizza at a local restaurant, and a Christmas lunch in the office allowed us to get to know fellow placement schemers and lawyers at the firm. It was incredible how quickly our scheme cohort bonded and by the end of the two weeks, we were all genuinely sad to leave. I did not sense any competition between us (the firm positively frowns on non-collegiate behaviour) and Jones Day had told us it did not have a cap on the number of trainees it would recruit from our scheme. So, everyone was incredibly supportive, and we were all able to go to each other for help (as Jones Day encouraged us to do). The fact that Jones Day recruits from such a wide pool of candidates meant there was almost always someone knowledgeable about the topic on which you were focusing. One of my tasks on the scheme was writing a memo on Initial Coin Offering (ICO) regulation. Luckily one of my fellow placement schemers was an absolute expert on the topic and was able to help me advise on the different perspectives taken by different countries.
Because the placement scheme at Jones Day mirrors the training contract, I feel I was able to get a thorough understanding of life as a trainee at their London office. The firm makes clear that its training contract isn’t for everyone. However, if you are someone who enjoys responsibility, learns through doing, and wants to work in a friendly, open office, I highly recommend applying