A common question at a legal interview (or any other business-related interview for that matter) is ‘What news stories are of interest to you at the moment?’. Or you might even be asked something more specific such as, ‘What do you think about the press regulation deal that’s recently been struck?’.
Don’t be caught out at this stage in the interview by being completely unprepared. Recruiters would expect a law student to be aware of current affairs, particularly those which have a legal angle so having nothing to say at this point is interview hari-kiri.
Knowing about current affairs and having an opinion on them is something that needs attention from now, wherever your current knowledge of what’s going on in the world currently stands. Try to make it a habit to listen, watch or read the news at least once a day and try to think about the stories from an analytical point of view.
What are the issues surrounding this story? Who are the main players? Who else is affected by this story? If it’s a business related story, how will the issue affect businesses/a particular sector/the wider economy?
I was recently lucky enough to be allowed an insight into the College of Law’s new mock assessment centre half day workshop, Suit Camp, which took place at the Guildford centre last Friday. I urge you, if you read this blog, to go along to one of these days; it was a fantastic experience.
Students from various universities came along (all in suits, looking very smart) to participate in a series of sessions which simulated what they might face at an assessment centre. That said, I think some of the sessions that were run that day would be equally useful for interview only situations too.
A stand out part of the afternoon for me was the workshop on commercial awareness. There wasn’t a PowerPoint slide to be seen as groups of students got stuck into the task of assuming the role of a law firm taking part in a ‘beauty parade’ i.e. pitching for business against other firms to win a potential new client. The ‘firms’ had to assess the facts and figures about a merger deal and then present their ideas on increasing profitability and cutting costs to the client. Participants learnt how to scrutinise the commercial aspects of a deal and how to pick out relevant facts to be able to guide their client not only from a legal perspective but also from a business point of view.
Students were also able to polish their presentation skills in a really friendly environment and got some excellent feedback from College of Law tutors, all former legal practitioners.
There was also an in-tray exercise to test attention to detail as well as a lively and fun speed interviewing session, followed by a great session on interview skills by one of the College of Law Guildford’s Careers Consultants.
The good news is that there are still two events that you could attend, both in London. The Bloomsbury centre is running theirs on Wednesday 20th February and the Moorgate centre’s is on Thursday 14th March. Follow this link to register – but do it quickly before all the places fill up!
If recruiters are looking for a reason not to take your application further (they have to narrow that CV mountain down somehow) then grammar and spelling mistakes are easy wins. This article from Recruiter.com has some excellent tips on how to avoid common grammatical errors. It is written from a US perspective but the tips still stand for UK applications.
Training contract applications should always be tailored specifically to the firm you’re applying to; a copy and paste job will be spotted a mile off and is the best way to get your form put straight into the reject bin.
Having said that, being able to copy and paste the standard, repetitive elements of your applications such as your GCSE and A Level grades could be a great time saver and would help some way towards easing the feelings of dread when facing yet another application form.
This is where LawCareers.net’s MyLC.N, tool comes in very handy. MyLC.N helps you to keep all your key employability information in one place before you start applying for training contracts and a really useful feature of this tool is MyLocker. Here’s where you can store your key information, such as grades, and apply to participating firms without having to re-type the same facts for each and every application. This means you can spend your precious application-making time on getting the important questions answered as best you can.
If you need any help with application forms or setting up a MyLC.N account pop in to the Placement and Careers Centre in the Bannerman Centre during my Quick Query times.
See lawcareers.net for an honest view on the importance of getting legal experience whilst you are on your degree.
CVs and covering letters: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/cvs.htm
Job application advice: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/job_application_advice.htm
Going for interviews
Interview tips: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/interview_tips.htm
Interview tests and exercises: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/interview_tests.htm
- International Workshop
29-30 March 2012
Open to all students
A chance to compare what life is like in two Freshfields offices – London and Paris
Take part in a case study and meet partners, associates and trainees from both offices
- First-year Focus Programme
10-11 April 2012
Open to first year undergraduate students
See what life is like in a commercial law firm and gain skills to prepare you for vacation scheme and training contract application forms and interviews
Deadline for your application
24 February 2012
How can I find out about law firms other than by looking at their websites, which I know won’t necessarily give me a particularly accurate impression?
The Oracle replies
As you have identified, when researching a law firm you need to look beyond its website, which is of course there primarily to market the business. Your first port of call should, naturally, be read the rest here…