Allen & Overy Insight Day

I am delighted to inform you all that I had the pleasure of attending the Allen & Overy Commercial Awareness event in London a couple of weeks ago. Thank you to The Student Lawyer who made it possible! This was an exciting and insightful event, and here is what I made of it.

About the day

The day kicked off with the usual networking in A&O’s conference suite. We were welcomed by Claire Wright, the firms’ Graduate Recruitment Partner who advises clients such as Amazon. Claire gave an

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Outside the A&O London HQ

insightful talk about who A&O are, what sets the firm aside from other magic circle firms, what types of clients they advise and the types of trainees they are looking for.

 

After a short break, we were introduced to Talent & Development Specialist, Madeleine Spence, who gave an enlightening networking skills session focusing on issues such as: the right handshake; use of body language; growing and nurturing your professional network. This was particularly useful as a second year law student with the view of attending future networking events.

Shortly after the skills session, we were introduced to trainees from Banking, Corporate, Tax and International Capital Markets (ICM) to name. I had the opportunity to speak to A&O trainees about their experiences as an aspiring commercial lawyer. From what I had gathered, the trainees really enjoy their work, the people they work with, and the quality of training they receive.

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Program for the day

Although, if one thing can be improved; the firm needs to be more ‘open’ about the way in which partners make decisions. Whilst leaving no stone unturned, generally A&O is an exciting place to work, hard work follows and the trainees are duly rewarded.

 

After lunch, the trainees stayed at our tables to help us with the A&O ‘Business Game’, which looked at the anatomy of a deal. We had the opportunity to apply our commerciality and knowledge of the law to a hypothetical scenario whereby company A sought to take over company B. There were news bulletins, reports and various other artefacts which had to be considered in advising the company. Essentially, this was a due diligence operation which required a level-headed common sense

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More freebies!

approach. Despite this, it was a very intellectually stimulating and enjoyable experience for all of us in the team. I might also add, it was a brilliant opportunity to practice our skills for future assessment centres.

 

The day was closed by Hannah Salton, the Graduate Recruitment Manager at A&O. Hannah was very helpful in explaining issues surrounding the application process including, inter alia, vacation schemes, training contracts, LPC and GDL funding.

BULLETIN for MLaw students. Yes – you are OK to apply to A&O – but it must be noted that the firm likes candidates to attend BPP to complete the MA (LPC with Business) course. I spoke to the course leader at BPP who advised that MLaw students would simply be exempt from having to retake particular LPC modules.

A thought for diversity

As a student who describes themselves as ‘northern and proud’, you can understand that this being my third time travelling to London this year (and in my life) is quite a significant thing for me. Including other factors such as my; accent, state educated background, sexual orientation, and low income 12274379_537418159767781_3946422286969550423_nbackground; making it to a magic circle law firm in the city is my proudest achievement to date.

Although there is still great progress to be made in the industry, and whilst organisations such as Aspiring Solicitors and Rare Recruitment are helping to open doors to individuals from all walks of life, you should never let who you are bring you down! We are always drawing closer to a society which lets individuals pick their own hand of cards. Celebrate your skills, focus on your weaknesses and you will get there. With a little support from your university careers service and other external organisations such as above, that one small drop in the ocean can create waves of opportunities.

Reflections on the day

I am still as excited and passionate about pursuing a career in commercial law. I have had this fantastic eye opening opportunity which has allowed me to ask my questions and get the answers I need to proceed onto applications for further open days and vacation schemes in 2016. Over the short term, I will now need to consider ‘how big’ I am willing to take my career. Can I imagine myself clocking 36 hours of straight working on high profile cases, in potentially what will be the next stage of my career?

Well, next month, I will be attending the NationalLawLive conference at the MOSI in Manchester to have a look at the smaller UK commercial firms based in and around Manchester. I am hoping that I can answer the aforementioned question and ‘sniff out’ the pros and cons of working for the more national firms such as Shoosmiths, Nabarro and Irwin Mitchell.

** Post was written 21st November 2015 – apologise for delay in publication.
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Using Time Wisely

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Time management has always been a must-have for future lawyers. It is essential for handling a work load efficiently and with attention to detail. Not only is time management one of the most important skills in almost every profession, it might also be necessary to ensure that you are performing at your best at university. Here is my five step system on managing your time efficiently.

1. Analyse

The best way to start is to figure out what exactly you do with your time on a daily basis. Start measuring your day to day activities, even if it is doing laundry or working on a 2,000 word essay. A time-keeping app on your smart phone like ATracker can help you with this, or you can simply jot down the times you started and finished an activity. With a bit of spreadsheet know-how, you can piece your data together and see where that time is going. If you are a super tech wizz, maybe a pie chart will give you a better idea?

Funny pie chart

2. Reflect

How does it look to you, are you surprised? Are you getting the recommended 4-6 hours of preparation for each module a week, or are you watching too much Netflix? Where is your spare time and how can you better allocate it? These are all the questions you should be asking yourself at the reflection stage. At this point, it might also be a good idea to talk to your peers and see how they’re doing. An objective opinion is the best verification.

3. Implement

Come up with a strategy. How are you going to be more efficient this time? What are you going to do more of and less of? Once you have figured that out, maybe you can magic up a timetable. You could draw it up on Excel or download a productivity app. I use my iCloud calendar and set reminder alerts; it runs my life.

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4. Review

How is it going? Are you keeping to your timetable? Are you working too little or too much? All these questions will help you decide whether to progress on to step 5 or give step 3 another go. Have a look at my list of tips at the end of the article, they might be useful at this stage.

5. Reappraise

If you are satisfied with your strategy, make sure you keep to it! Complacency can lead to ignorance, so it is essential that you keep reviewing your time plan for maximum efficiency.

Time Management Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to reschedule – life is sometimes like that.
  • Does it have to be done right away, or can you come back to it later?
  • Now sure how to handle your priorities? Consult Eisenhower’s principle.
  • Be motivated about it – completing tasks are accomplishments.
  • Make time for you, your friends and your family.
  • Don’t over work yourself, put your well being first.
  • Little jobs? Make a to-do list instead!
  • Is multitasking a good idea or do you need to stay task-focused?

Placement Applications Made Easy

The month is upon us, and the top legal firms have now started recruiting for their Winter, Spring and Summer vacation schemes. This can be a worrying period for many as there are so many schemes one can apply for. In this piece, I am going to outline the whole process and hopefully make it all sound foolproof.

Step 1: Do your research

Click here to see a list of all present work placement schemes. You want to print this page off so you have a list of firms to start sorting through, this will come in handy later.

Next you need to think about what types of firms you are applying for. Luckily, LawCareers.net has a short description of each firm when you click the name. You need to look out for the a-level requirements. Most firms are AAB or equivelant (so around 340 UCAS points). Applications are often systematic, so you do not want to bother applying to a firm that is automatically going to throw you out. You might also want to consider the location; how far you are willing to commute? And what about the intake of trainees? After all the whole idea of the placement is so that you increase your chances of gaining a training contract.

Get your print out list and start ticking firms off, writing any relevant notes alongside. Think of any particular factors which might affect your application. For example, are they taking graduates or penultimates? Now once you get to the bottom of that list, you might feel a little swamped in the list of firms you have to research. My advice to you is to take advantage of the MyLC.N features. Create your account and use the “Add to MyLC.N”, this will help you organise your applications better when you start receiving responses.

Step 2: Do the research

Go into your MyLC.N firms and have a look at those you added to ‘Researching’. When you have a spare few hours, you need to start sorting through these firms by looking at them a little further in detail. You should be asking the following questions.

What areas of law do they specialise in?

What sets them out from other firms?

What type of trainee are they looking for?

These questions are going to help you prepare for your applications. But just remember, you will not find all the answers to your questions on the one ‘About Us’ page; you may be required to dig a little bit deeper.

Step 3: Start Applying

This step is easily one of the most complicated and focused step. Hopefully, you now have a list of around 6-10 firms you want to apply for, and you should have organised some notes that you made when you did your research. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as emailing in the same CV to different recruiters. The larger firms will be looking as far into you as they can, and most will even be asking for GCSE results. You need to get all your documents together ready for the data-entry aspect of this task. You need to be prepared to disclose any criminal convictions, any disabilities or extenuating circumstances which may set you back from others and you also need to have a CV that contains a list of module grades. But keep those grades to hand because you’ll also be asked to enter them into each firms system separately too!

Step 3.1: Cover Letters

This is the make or break part of the process. If you even managed to make it this far, you are going to need an excellent cover letter which really sells yourself to the firm. In your letter you want to spend a line or two introducing yourself to the recruiter.

On the second paragraph you need to explain why you want to work with that particular firm, whilst also considering the values and history of the firm. You need to show that you have read the ‘Who we are’ and ‘Our vision’ pages and that you share that same vision.

In the third paragraph, you should have a look at the type of people who already works there. Some firms have case studies of current trainees, they’re worth a read! You need to consider the type of work that is involved, and what skills you can bring to it.

Throughout this whole letter, you should not just be writing it to the graduate recruitment officer; you should be writing to yourself. If you can imagine yourself being the graduate recruitment officer for that firm, think of what YOU would expect from an applicant. If you simply cannot put yourself in that recruiters’ shoes, you have not done enough digging! Luckily, LawCareers offers a bio page about most of the recruiters from each firm, so make the most of that.

My last tips:

  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar has to be on point or your application is instantly thrown out of the window.
  • Do not use over the top words which make you look pompous, it’s not an application to BBC’s The Apprentice.
  • Be clear, concise and persuasive with your argument.
  • Use the word count, but not all of it. At least 95% of it.
  • Get your employability officer, course leader, tutor at university to have a look over it. It is likely that they are or were once solicitors in your shoes.
  • Have some resilience. You are going to be knocked back again and again by rejection, but remember that Rome was not built in a day!

Best of luck!

I know I am not the best source for information of this nature, as I too am currently applying for my work placement schemes. But, from what I have learnt so far from open days, placements and one-to-ones with tutors, the advice above appears to be the precise criteria expected. But of course if I missed anything, or you have any more suggestions, please comment below. Best of luck!

Finding my motivation

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I thought that this was a topic worth exploring as it seems that a lot of students are digressing on social media about how much of a struggle it can be to motivate one’s self. This post is not really a helpful rubric for finding your own motivation as it focuses primarily on my own personal struggles.

So, thinking back to A-levels at Preston College. Motivation meant giving up things I loved for the things I loved more. After my first unit one exams, I received one of the biggest shocks of my life. I had achieved a D in LAW01 and E in ACCN01 – and I felt pretty mugged off! Of course I cried down the phone to my mother; I sank to the thought that I just was not intelligent enough.

After brewing on it, I decided to ‘pick myself up and dust myself off’ and get on with it. I made some pretty rigorous changes to my routine, namely making more of an effort to attend college (which was just under a two hour journey), I stayed behind after college in the library, I stopped going to town with my friends in lunch break, I locked myself in my room with a list of revision items every night.

I went to the extent of dropping A-level photography after my first year, despite being awarded an AS Level grade B. I made a very hard decision and gave up a hobby so that I could focus on my academia.

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I put myself in to resit my first accounting exam, and pulled my grade up from E to A. I realised then that it was not a case of being intelligent, but a case of putting in the time and effort and persevering with everything you have.  I resat my first law exam in the second year, and I pulled the grade up from a D to an A. I was able to attend more sessions with my tutors to work on my strengths and weaknesses in preparation for the final exams. The more I perceived, the stronger I became. Looking back on those two years; now I have reputable A-level grades, a place in a good university, and a 1st classification in my first year of a law degree.

I think the issue with many young adults starting their own path in life is ignorance. Life surely gives you lemons, but its up to you to make the lemonade with them. How you do that is entirely up to you, but it is done by you alone.

My final tips

1. I will openly admit, some tutors used learning styles which never gelled with me. But I never depended on them to get me the good grades, so sometimes I taught myself. I made flash cards and flow charts and so forth. You need to take your work home with you!

2. Put up a good fight. If it knocks you down, just get back up again. If you find joy in what it is you do, you will not give up after the first knock out.

3. Be objective. It is too easy to be subjective and assume that you are working hard enough. Are you sure that you are giving it 100%, or are you watching too much Netflix?

4. Do not doubt yourself. You are a human being, already an intelligent species. Make use of those lobes and put yourself into 5th gear.

A day with Aspiring Solicitors

Earlier this morning I was whisked away to the amazing capital city, London. Today I would be featuring in Aspiring Solicitors new campaign video emphasising on diversity in the legal profession. The organisation plays a strong role in opening up the legal profession to people of all backgrounds. You can find out more about what they do by clicking here

I arrived at London Euston early in the afternoon, where Liam was waiting for me. Although my friend is moving back to University tomorrow, I did not dare to navigate the London Underground alone. We caught the northern line and went exploring around Westminster (my favourite place) for some lunch. McDonalds obviously. 

 

After lunch, Liam left to run his errands while I met Chris White and other aspiring solicitors from different backgrounds, and definitely not from the Preston area. I seemed to be the only one to travel so far!

Chris had appointed a PR company to direct and shoot the new campaign video, who I had the pleasure of working with. Now I don’t think it is fair that I ruin the surprise for you guys, but the video involved running around London in Aspiring Solicitors hoodies and shorts. Ask no more, you will see soon when I will share the published video here on my blog – it will be the corner stone to my webpage for some time. Oh, and I got to keep the hoodie!

 After a brief shoot around an hour or so, Chris wanted to take us to his local or second office. He was a very kind and inspiring person and treated us all to a round of drinks. We had the opportunity to mingle with each other as law students from different corners of the country – fair to say an invaluable experience!
After drinks, me and Liam took the DLR to Canary Warf for dinner at Pizza Express. With students 40% off, we treated ourselves to three courses – and a beer. By the way, the tiramisu is highly recommended. 

A brilliant end to a fantastic day, and it flew by so quickly! As I write this from the Virgin Pendilino crossing the Midlands, good night and thanks for reading!

Victim Support: Children & Young People Specialist Training

Hello all – this is my 20th post!

I have recently completed a three day specialist training course with Victim Support. This was a new course focusing on working with CYPs or Children and Young Persons. This was a fantastic opportunity to develop my interpersonal skills and learn about some of the complicated laws regarding CYPs.

On the first day, we looked at the UN Convention on Rights of the child and The Children Acts 1989 and 2004. We look at how Victim Support reflects these legal obligations imposed through its policies and procedures. The biggest topic of conversation was Safeguarding. As one of many services that offers confidential support, there are situations where public bodies are required to disclose information if that body deems that there is a risk to that person. We had to think about how exactly we would explain these legal obligations to children as young as 4 years old.

There are circumstances where children are expected to provide evidence in court proceedings, and part of the service delivery involves providing practical support in these given situations. We looked at the Youth and Criminal Evidence Act 1989 which sets out the special measures in place for children who are witnesses to a crime. These special measures may involve clearing the public gallery, removing wigs and gowns and establishing a video-link based appearance. In situations like this, we as Victim Support have to be prepared to work with multi-agencies such as the Witness Service commissioned by the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Working with multi-agencies can do fantastic things, but we had to take into account the things that hinder multi-agency work. For example, gate-keeping over cases due to interests in funding, dumping cases which may affect departmental targets, bureaucracy and double-tasking. As case workers, we have to be prepared to deal with these Multi-agencies, and know exactly who will jump in and at what stage.

On the second day we looked at social media and the impact it has on a CYPs experience with crime. We considered current issues such as anonymity sites such as ask.fm and formspring, child sexual exploitation on chat room environments such as Habbo Hotel, revenge porn and the coercion of cat-fishing. On the positive side, we considered the ways in which we can protect CYPs online safety by looking security settings and home network restraints. My personal response to this aspect of the course – I wanted to take down my complete digital existence. When it is given much thought, it is too easy to obtain personal information about a person.

On the final day we put the skills into practice by creating action plans after identifying needs from case studies. That did not necessarily mean role-playing, but moreover considering whether we could identify needs from reading the studies and watching reconstruction videos. This proved the most difficult element of the task, but as with anything at Victim Support, it is a skill which can only be developed over time with experience.

I am really glad I attended the training course, I feel more aware about the processing in place for CYPs, and the importance of safeguarding and confidentiality.