Training partner interview – Macfarlanes

Please explain your role as graduate recruitment/training partner.

I lead the search for new trainees and look after our existing trainees during their training contracts. Because trainees are the future of the firm, we want partners to be actively involved in their recruitment. A large team of partners therefore supports me by visiting universities, interviewing candidates and acting as individual mentors to trainees during the training contract. There is no attrition built into our model – we want every trainee to have a long career here after qualifying. Much of our time is therefore spent in ensuring that our trainees are well trained and supported during their training contract so that they succeed.

What work do your trainees get involved in?

Our trainees are expected to contribute right from the start. They are tested in challenging situations working with some of the world’s most successful businesses and individuals. Our size means that trainees are closer to the frontline, making a valuable and valued contribution. Normal everyday work for a trainee will include legal research, drafting legal documents, negotiating, executing transactions and seeking client instructions. Trainees will work either directly with partners or in small teams with partners and solicitors. This means that trainees are given responsibility early on and expected to have direct dealings with clients and qualified lawyers at other firms.

How does your training contract differ from other firms?

From a trainee perspective it’s the level of responsibility that is given to them along with the quality of the training they will receive. Because we recruit for the long term and expect our trainees to contribute from the word go, it is important that our trainees are well trained in a supportive environment during their training contracts. Our trainees can find themselves opposite a senior associate or a partner at another firm and they need to have the support and training to be able to do that work. Training is one of the most important things that we do.

What does a strong application look like?

We are looking for the partners of the future when we select our trainees and the selection process is necessarily rigorous. Applicants must have the academic ability to be able to deal with complex legal work. They must also be commercially aware and able to work well in a team. Because we hire trainees for the long term, we want to see a commitment to a career in law and an understanding of the type of work we do at this firm. Life as a lawyer in the City can be demanding and so candidates should also demonstrate resilience and ambition with reference to their extra-curricular activities and day to day life skills.

What impresses you about students when you meet them at fairs?

I am impressed how much students know about the legal profession and business. They are usually also very well informed about the work we do at this firm and ask all the right questions about us. We are looking for intelligence and an enthusiasm for a career in law and this is exactly what we tend to see. Our business is fundamentally about our clients and building strong client relationships. To do this, we need people who have drive and enthusiasm, and a sense of humour too! If we see all these qualities in students on campus then we can be pretty sure that they will impress our clients as well.