"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!"
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
Shearman & Sterling is retaining 100% of its 13 London trainees who are due to qualify in September 2015, as all of them have accepted newly qualified positions at the firm. The NQ lawyers join practice groups including M&A, tax, antitrust and asset management.
Newly-qualified UK lawyers at Shearman & Sterling will see salaries pushed up £7,000 to £95,000 this year as City salaries soar. Rises of between 7% and 10% have been dished out across the associate ranks, with more experienced associates set to trouser up to £12,000 extra a year. The salary increases took effect from 1 May, 2016.
"Each firm will have its own personality when it comes to interview questions so it is important to prepare for a wide range. At Shearman we are quite conversational and tend to go through your motivations for a legal career, what you like about the firm, the relevant skills you have and so on. We also ask the more standard competency questions as well as some less conventional strength-based questions; these allow candidates to talk about themselves and allow us to see your natural inclination to certain tasks and skills.
Lawyers need to compete not just by knowing the law, but by giving clients business savvy advice. Therefore you will not get through an interview without being asked some commercial questions. We don't expect candidates to know many legal intricacies, but we do want you to be confident with business language and to be able to talk through a deal rather than just name dropping on your application form!"
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