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.

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!