"It can be hard to differentiate between firms, especially as so much of the graduate recruitment marketing material can appear to be very similar.
It's crucial you go beyond these to gain a full understanding of each firm. Use their corporate site for information about their deal work and also trade publications and directories like The Lex 100 (very useful for comparing firms).
Nothing beats actually meeting a firm though - this will give you a real insight into their work and culture, and what they expect from their trainees, so make sure you're aware of when they'll be visiting your university and / or any open days you can apply for.
Firms will expect you to know what they've been working on (and why this interests you), who their main competitors are, and what differentiates them from these competitors so research should be pretty in-depth."
"Be yourself and be enthusiastic! The best attendees will prepare with some general facts and figures but be open minded to finding out as much as possible by asking questions and listening to the answers. We can really tell when students are disengaged, so please think about looking interested and asking questions – interactive sessions are more enjoyable if you throw yourself into it.
Small trainee cohorts mean we have to be extra careful to find applicants who 'fit' with the personality of the firm. Be sociable and get to know people as it's the only way you can tell if you really like a firm. Don't be afraid to show your individuality, but make the impact with your opinions and experience, rather than with your clothing or behaviour – make sure you are remembered for the right reasons!"
Below is a fully interactive table, which shows the pay for those firms who have an extended profile with The Lex 100. If you'd like to compare firm's survey results go to our brand new Law Firm Comparison table or click through to our Firms section for a more detailed analysis of each firm.
"All law firms are different. They may not look like it at first glance but I can assure you they are, and this question is asking you to show us what has interested you about our firm in particular. The key is to only apply to firms that actually do interest you and then try to illustrate what it is that sparks your interest. This may be the deals, the clients, the culture, the international spread or a combination of these things and other considerations. Try not to be generic and remember if you can remove the firm's name and replace it with another's then you haven't shown us what it is about our firm that is attractive."
"As law is extremely competitive, the majority of good applicants will have excellent academics, solid work experience and interesting extra-curricular activities.
What makes applicants stand out from the rest is the research they have carried out on the firm they are applying to and the way they use this research to draw on their own experiences in referencing and talking about the firm.
Every law firm is different and it is your job to find out: where the firm sits in the legal market; who are their main clients; and what are their areas of expertise. This information should feed into the ‘why my firm’ question on the application form / cover letter.
At the interview, you will need to feel confident talking about the research you have done and not be frightened if you are asked any exploratory question. Sometimes, you could be asked for an opinion which may require you to make a quick judgment. Don't be afraid to have a view and be ready to maintain your stand. The key is to stay calm and answer logically, evidencing from your own experiences and learning."
Matt Anson graduated in law from the University of Wales. Now an associate in the M&A department of Shearman & Sterling (London) LLP, he shares his experience
On Thursday 11 June, Shearman & Sterling is set to host an open day for professionals in other careers who may be considering switching to law. This will be a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the industry, why firms are keen to attract career changers, and how to utilise those much sought-after transferrable skills.Lex spoke with Monika Ciereszko, Paul Gascoyne and Katie Meer from the firm’s graduate recruitment team to discuss the programme.
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