What really stands out in an application form?
All of our lawyers are individuals, with their own personalities and interests outside of work, which all help contribute towards their way of thinking and making them an excellent lawyer. So, while academics are important, we want to see people who have interests and experiences beyond this.
What criteria do you mark candidates against in job applications?
This is covered below during assessments.
What kind of extracurricular activities really impress you on an application?
There isn’t a “perfect” extracurricular activity - anything an applicant gets involved with outside of their studies can tell us a lot about them, from volunteer work and fundraising, to part-time jobs and positions of responsibility on a university society committee.
What are the main reasons you reject a training contract or vacation scheme application?
There isn’t one overarching reason. We are looking for certain qualities throughout the recruitment process, such as intellect, drive, resilience, influence and interpersonal skills. It is important for us to see that a candidate has these skills.
We also want to see that someone is truly committed to a career as a commercial lawyer. It’s fine to have considered different career paths, but when hiring candidates for a training contract, we want to know that they see themselves building a career with us.
Competition for places is fierce for our work experience schemes and we encourage candidates to submit a training contact application even if your work experience scheme application was unsuccessful.
Vacation schemes and other work experience
How do you assess vacation scheme students?
We want students on our work experience schemes to be able to immerse themselves in the firm, our work and our culture. Because of this, we don’t formally assess our students during the scheme, but we do ask their associate host to share their feedback. Depending on the scheme, students will apply and interview during the scheme or afterwards for a training contract.
How can people make up for the fact that they haven’t done any work experience at a law firm?
When interviewing for a training contract, law firms like to see a real sense of passion and enthusiasm for the role so make sure this shines through. If you don’t have legal work experience, you can display this in other ways, for example through your awareness and understanding of the different types of law firms, practice areas and clients.
You can also talk about the efforts you have made to get to know firms and speak to lawyers, for instance, by attending law fairs, presentations and other events.
How can somebody make the right impression at a law fair?
It’s impressive when students come to law fairs with specific questions and take the time to jot down the answers. It shows a level of preparation and genuine interest in the firm, as opposed to asking questions because you feel you have to or ones which are already answered on the website e.g application dates.
Assessment days and interviews
What skills and competencies do you look for candidates to demonstrate on assessment days?
We aim to employ the brightest minds regardless of what or where they have studied. A law degree is not essential – only about half of our trainees studied law as undergraduates.
We like people with:
- energy and spark who can relate to those around them
- common sense, integrity and drive
- a range of interests outside of the law
- a sharp intellect – our work is intellectually demanding so the minimum standard we look for is three good A levels (or equivalent) and a good 2:1 in your degree
- independent thought
- commercial awareness
- resolve and judgement
- an interesting take on things
- the ability to show grit under pressure
- a good sense of humour
To thrive here, you will also need enthusiasm, commitment and a willingness to accept responsibility.
How can you tell whether a candidate really wants the job?
Preparation goes a long way and you can see when a candidate has really researched the firm, beyond simply what is written in our trainee recruitment brochure. Selecting firms to apply to and start your legal career with is a big decision and it is good to see when candidates are taking it seriously.
What kind of questions should candidates ask at interview? What shouldn’t they ask?
My best piece of advice about this would be to ensure that you tailor your questions to the t person interviewing you - a partner may be best placed to answer questions about the future strategy or direction of the firm, but anyone you meet can tell you what they enjoy about working at the firm.