Interview experiences for vacation schemes and training contracts. Law firms are sorted alphabetically.

Clifford Chance Interview

From anonymous

There were two parts to the assessment centre: a senior associate interview (competency) and a partner interview (based on the case study).

Since Clifford Chance conducts CV-blind interviews, the first question in the senior associate interview would be “tell me about yourself”. My advice would be to give a brief skeleton of your CV, e.g. your leadership positions, work experience etc. After that, they will proceed to ask you competency-based questions. Some of the questions I was asked during the senior associate interview:

  • A time when I pushed myself
  • How I manage time
  • Difficulties faced whilst working as a team
  • Difficulties faced whilst being a leader
  • A time I had to deal with a difficult client/customer
  • What do clients look in a law firm
  • How can I contribute to the firm
  • Why law
  • Why Clifford Chance

The interviewer also asked whether there are any other points I wanted to mentioned that were not covered in her questions, so I mentioned that whilst I have explained “why law”, I wanted to elaborate specifically on “why commercial law”, as I had prepared different answers for both questions. One advice I would give is to always structure your question with “firstly, secondly, thirdly…”.

Then, we were brought into a computer room, where we were presented with a case study and we were instructed to type our findings in the form of an email. Be sure to structure your email and write professionally. I wrote mine in bullet points, accompanied with full sentences.

Then, we were to bring the printed copy of our email to the next interview, which was conducted by a partner. The partner asked me to summarise the case study (this is where attention to detail comes in, so make sure you remember the key points of the scenario) and present to her my findings. She then asked specific follow-up questions on what I had written in my answer. They deliberately ask really hard questions on purpose! But just be cool and make educated guesses on some of the commercial questions if you don’t know the answer.

The things that they are looking for:

Competency interview

  1. Leadership and collaborative skills: This is about whether you are able to provide convincing examples of situations where you had to manage a team, motivate and inspire individuals, work collaboratively with different team members and taking responsibility.
  2. “Client focus”: This is essentially about your ability to identify the client’s needs and to build long-lasting rapport with your client. Times where you have had to hold difficult conversations or deal with difficult customers are examples of this.
  3. Understanding the commercial environment and Clifford Chance: This examines whether you can identify the “economics of a law firm” (i.e. how a law firm interacts with the political, economic, technological and social environments). You should have an understanding of terminology and jargon commonly used in the commercial world, and also show interest in recent trends.
  4. Understanding the work that lawyers do: This test whether you have general enthusiasm in becoming a lawyer. Examples of legal and non-legal work experiences should be raised here. You should also have an understanding of the common practice areas.

Case study

  1. Written communication: Your case study report should be well structured and have little to no grammatical and spelling errors. I find that writing your report in bullet-points and in full sentences work.
  2. Verbal communication: This examines whether you are able to hold up under pressure, whether you are able to support your stance despite being brutally questioned and whether you have confidence in verbalizing your thoughts. Also, body language is a plus point.
  3. “Client focus”: Similar to above. Think about any potential “conflicts” or “benefits” that might affect your client, and the legal and commercial consequences of some of the actions taken in the case study.
  4. Understanding the commercial environment and Clifford Chance: Similar to above. Also, do try to link any real-life knowledge of the firm to the case study, e.g. if it the case study is similar to any real deals that the firm has been involved with. It also sees whether your answer is thought through from a business perspective.
  5. Innovation and business delivery: This sees whether you can think of creative solutions to aid your client. For example, consider any possibilities of price reduction or indemnities.

Clifford Chance IGNITE Training Contract Interview 2019

The TC has a particular focus on technology. Trainees in the scheme are expected to be passionate about innovation and to help create solutions for the firm and its clients. Please note that this is the first year of recruitment. The firm may change how they assess applicants in the future.

There were two days of interviews. The first day determines whether the applicant would be suitable for a TC in general. Once successful on the first day, applicants were invited for the final day to be assessed whether they’d be a good fit for this specific programme.

First day
There were two interviews which are very similar, if not the same, to the ones given to the applicants for the standard TC.

The first interview is a competency interview with a senior associate. I was asked to introduce myself, then answer questions from the associate’s written list. The questions were standard:

  • Why commercial law
  • Why the firm
  • Overcoming challenges
  • Teamwork
  • Dealing with difficult people
  • Balancing different workload

As usual, prepare answers but do not recite from memory. Talk about your experiences naturally and it’ll be fine.

The second interview is a case study with a partner. Same with the standard TC process, there is a 30-min preparation time to write an email summarising a fictional acquisition. After that there is a 45-min to 1-hour interview to present the findings and answer follow-up questions. I don’t think it is crucial to spot all the issues but you should be able to identify most of them. The partner I was with was kind enough to give me guidance on some issues. After the case study, the partner asks some general questions like the above.

Tip for the case study is write and talk about the issues systematically and logically. The format I used was group issues in categories first (e.g. issues clashing with client’s business plan, logistical issues) and then split each category into practice areas. Listen and don’t be afraid to take hints from the partner because that is one way of showing that you can take feedback and that you can expand on what he or she tells you.

After the interviewers deliberate, the graduate recruitment team emails everyone in the evening, revealing the results. Successful applicants are invited to the second/final day.

Second day
There is only one interview – case study related to improving processes – with a partner and either a person from the technical team or an associate on the day. There are 30 mins for reading and preparing a presentation. After that, the applicant meets the interviewers to present their solution and answer follow-up questions for 45 mins to 1 hr. The interviewers also ask general questions at the end, e.g. why law, why this TC and personal examples demonstrating resilience etc.

This interview is designed to test how the applicant thinks on the spot and the applicant’s knowledge of the firm’s size and capabilities. So my tip before attending the interview is to relax and get some background knowledge of the firm, e.g. what tools the firm uses.

Tips for the interview itself are to present clearly and to consider possible decisions to be made if your solution is implemented. To present my solution, I used the structure – current problems, my proposed solution, benefits & expected outcome. The interviewers could challenge the proposed solution and the applicant should analyse and respond accordingly. Also remember that a law firm is a business and ultimately they need to earn money by providing valuable products and services. This mindset is especially important for this interview.

Overall
The interviews were enjoyable. It really felt like a two-way conversation, instead of prescriptive grilling. One last tip is to prepare a strong introduction. Because the interviews are CV-blind, always introduce yourself before jumping into the questions / presentation, so that the interviewer can have a preliminary image of who you are.

I thought I share my own experience of IGNITE assessment day. The format is pretty much the same as heidipercyslinky so I share the questions that I get asked that is not present earlier.

  1. What ideas do you have to help CC legal tech? Think about what the role involves and brainstorm beforehand how you would do the job.
  2. What could Clifford Chance do to help its clients? Think about identifying risks and liabilities when the client is pursuing a business opportunity rather than helping the business source new opportunity which is what investment bankers would do rather than a lawyer.

If I am to do this interview again, I would prepare an elevator pitch for myself, highlighting three key reasons why CC should hire me, as the first question they ask, tell me about yourself. The associate keeps asking me if there is anything else in my cv that I want to tell him as he does not have access to it. So, it is up to me to bring it in.

During my feedback call, I gain a deeper understanding of what lawyers do as opposed to bankers. Think of legal risks and liabilities rather than sourcing and valuing deals.

Even though I didn’t get this position, the experience made me realised that I wanted to be more involved in being a lawyer rather than contributing to legal tech.

Clifford Chance Training Contract Interview 2018

“The day starts off with a competency interview. It’s relatively straightforward – just a chat about what you do outside the university, some basic competencies and your motivations for Clifford Chance.

Arguably, the hardest part of the day is the next part – written exercise and Partner interview. The case study is a written task where you have to highlight issues about a potential acquisition to a partner. The exercise is really time-pressured, so I would advise writing very concisely, with clear headings and mainly highlighting key points. It is essential that you know how transactions work, what practice areas may be involved and any current affairs that may affect the proposed transaction.

When presenting to the partner, its important to tackle is systematically. After that, its up to the partner to probe you and ask you questions about the case study. The partner may even talk about issues or your motivations beyond the case study. For my interview, my partner did not even read what I had typed out in the written exercise!

All in all, the AC at Clifford Chance is not particularly challenging, unless of course you get a Partner who deliberately makes it extremely technical. Even then, the issues in the case study are relatively straightforward. I think that the AC at CC is predominantly trying to get a feel of your personality. Bottom line, just be confident and be calm. As they will emphasise on the AC, they are looking for potential! A few of my friends who got the TC as well thought they bombed the Partner interview, but as long as you show a logical thought processes, you should be fine.”

Clifford Chance Training Contract Interview 2019

The day started with an intro session by a member of the Grad recruitment team. Just to go through the day and answer any questions.

There was a group of 8 candidates and we were each collected by our interviewers.

Competency interview
The first interview was a competency for everyone with two associates. Not sure if this has any impact on the weighting or was to get nerves out of the way. I had two associates.

Interestingly, I didn’t get the traditional why law or why CC.

As CC are CV blind, I had to provide an intro to myself. Questions were on teamwork, challenges, achievements, leadership and commercial awareness. I found the later a little difficult, as I was just a little thrown by the way they were phrased. The associates have a long list of questions which they can ask, so prepare for a very broad range of potential competencies.

The impression I got was that they would grade your answers from 1-5. So not sure how my answers will stack up or be judged. Felt like I was doing a lot of talking. Wasn’t easy to build rapport in this interview as it was a back and forth, question and answer.

Case study interview
30 minutes to prepare a typed email to a Partner on a fictional acquisition. And then 10 minutes to present key points to the Partner.

Advice here would be to structure the email so that it’s easy to present. In terms of content, focus on practice areas and apply the facts to these practices to explain how they will be involved. The Partner interviewing me looked through the typed email, but for others the Partners didn’t. (Apparently the writing is not judged – but I find that hard to believe).

The Partner then follows up to clarify any points and to ask some more questions on the case study. These questions are just generally on common sense and how would you react in the situation. For example, client wanted the DD complete in a short timescale or you have conflict commitments. What would you do.

Once the case study element is over, the Partner then asks some general questions for about 10-15 minutes, why CC, and why law, etc. Again given the CV blind element, they asked about background and journey to this point. The Partner felt I had an interesting journey so we spent some time talking about this. In this interview it was much easier to develop rapport with the Partner and it felt more like a conversation. I actually enjoyed this interview, and almost wished it carried on for a little bit longer!!

When was your Clifford Chance interview? 

February 2018

What was it for? 

Springboard Scheme

Please describe the interview process at Clifford Chance.

There were two interviews, one requiring a case study beforehand. The interviewers were very friendly and grad recruitment were around all afternoon to answer questions. As a result it was a very comfortable experience.

What advice would you give to future applicants about the Clifford Chance interview?

The case study did require a basic knowledge of commercial law. The other interview involved predictable questions about your characteristics and interest in the firm. In order to prepare a candidate should prepare evidence of all competencies that they think they might get asked about and research the firm.

When was your Clifford Chance interview? 

February 2016

What for? 

Summer vacation scheme

Please describe the interview process at Clifford Chance.

The assessment centre felt quite formal, all applicants were sat in a central area and divided into two groups. One group receiving their ‘case study’ interviews first and the second group receiving their ‘general’ interview. Both interviews were conducted by a single partner one-on-one.

The case study interview was fairly straightforward, I was given a document prior to entering the interview and given time to proof read and come up with a 10 minute presentation (however in the end my interviewing partner did not get me to present my full presentation- instead stopping me very early to just discuss the issues). The case-study involved a news story about a client of the firm and I had to discuss the firm’s options regarding that client- such as what advice the firm could give, whether the firm would want to maintain a relationship with the client etc. I felt it was a much simpler case study than I have had at other similar firms and they just wanted to make sure you could flag up lots of issues- rather than say focussing on a select few.

The general interview was very straightforward too. The partner who interviewed me had a list of questions that he was reading from and wrote notes on as we went through. Very standard questions covering ‘why me, why Clifford Chance, why law’ with some competency questions about how I deal with difficult people and how I keep myself organised thrown in too.

Overall this was a transparent interview process and it felt like the key was having a good, individual reasons for why you wanted to work for Clifford Chance, and, being capable of flagging up basic legal issues in the case study.

What advice would you give to future applicants about the Clifford Chance interview?

In prepping for interviews with Clifford Chance I think it is key to have a very tailored reason why you want to work for them over any other magic circle firm. The interview structure is very bland so I think its important to go out of your way to demonstrate why you are different instead of giving bland answers to bland questions.

I was successful in getting the vac scheme and on the vac scheme itself they told me that my general interviewer had said my knowledge of the firm didn’t extend much beyond what was on the website- so I think it would be good to try and meet a firm’s representative at recruitment events to try and really get a personal account of what the firm is like.

When was your Clifford Chance interview? 

February 2018

What for? 

Training Contract

Please describe the interview process at Clifford Chance.

The interview consisted of a strength-based interview with an associate, followed by a case study with a partner. Although I’ve attended multiple interviews, it was the sincerity and interest shown by everyone at the firm (particularly HR) which set Clifford Chance apart from other firms for me. Not only did it make me feel more comfortable during the interviews, it actually made me more enthusiastic about the entire day.

What advice would you give to future applicants about the Clifford Chance interview?

If invited to a interview at Clifford Chance, you should remember that the firm is already impressed by you. The interview is your chance to reassure the firm that everything you stated in the application is true. My best advice would be to be yourself. The firm isn’t looking for people that meet a strict criteria. They look for people from interesting backgrounds, people with personality- and this doesn’t mean you need to have a loud personality!

For the strength-based interview, whilst preparing for the usual questions which relate to competency, it’s essential to have a sincere, genuine reason for why you applied to Clifford Chance. You really have to go into the smallest detail- mention the aspects about the firm which appeal to you and explain why that’s so important to you.

The case study was the most difficult part of the day. We were given a scenario and asked to write an email to the partner, summarising the information provided. I was accustomed to receiving scenarios where you can mention lots of different issues but CC case study had very few points to mention. When writing the briefing email (in preparation for the briefing interview with the partner), I found myself quite worried about my lack of points.

Considering I still managed to get an offer with the firm, I think it’s important to have confidence in your abilities. Even if you think you don’t have enough information (or think you’ve missed out on things because your brief is short), just elaborate on the points you do have in the interview. The partner will also make suggestions and ask about alternative scenarios to hear your opinion on the matter. Since the partner is wanting to understand your thought process and test your common sense/commercial awareness, make the most of the casual nature of the conversation and explain your opinions.

When was your Clifford Chance interview? 

February 2018

What for?

[Not provided]

Please describe the interview process at Clifford Chance.

Clifford Chance = A competency interview with one or two partners; reading some documents and writing an email response to the client; discussing the case study with one or two partners.

What advice would you give to future applicants about the Clifford Chance interview?

Clifford Chance = The competency interview was pretty standard, no curveballs. It was all about my application and motivations for law. It wasn’t exactly enjoyable through – I felt like the partners might have been doing a good cop-bad cop act because one of the partners was very forthright in challenging everything I said.

The case study is not particularly challenging – you’re in a room with about 5 other applicants and you do it on a computer, and print it out. It’s not particularly time pressured – just read fast and keep you response clear and well structured. The partner didn’t actually look at my response before or during the interview, but we discussed the material I’d read. It’s important to look at the issue through the client’s eyes, what their interests and concerns will be and how the firm can help them.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer quantity of other candidates. A number of groups from different time slots were sharing a room to wait in. It unexpectedly psyched me out a little bit so just a forewarning!

When was your Clifford Chance interview? 

February 2018

What for? 

Vacation scheme

Please describe the interview process at Clifford Chance.

This was basically a competency, written task and case study (last two rolled into one)

What advice would you give to future applicants about the Clifford Chance interview?

Competency: really simple as long as you come in knowing that you have to really sell yourself and use all your experiences to demonstrate your personality. It’s definitely not hard and I think they’re just seeing your personality from that one, as well as box ticking (commercial awarneess, communication etc)

Written task (part of the case study): so this is kinda hard and definitely you’re put under pressure for this, since you have 30mins to read the info, write a memo (on a laptop no less) to the partner about potential client concerns and what CC can do. It defintiely requires a prior understanding of what lawyers actually do which is tough if you haven’t really gone deep into researching the exact role of lawyers or haven’t done a VS etc. For that again structure really is key I’m assuming and they’re looking (much like with Dechert) that you can write concisely, clearly and in a structured manner.

Case study: you then had to present based on the email you wrote to the partner (which was printed off, the partner isnt given a copy so they go in blind). The presentation again Im assuming is mainly about structure etc as well as the content you talk about. The partner then grills you on everything you’ve said/potentially missed and brings in new scenarios to test your problem solving on the fly. Then they discuss really general questions about you (I got “challenges facing CC” and “why do you think you will be a good lawyer at CC”). The Q&A is by far the hardest part of the case study, and prior research about current affairs topics (brexit, gdpr etc), general commercial awareness (e.g knowing what a leveraged loan is and the issues surrounding that) and knowing the role lawyers do in every dept and how they tackle different crises within businesses is key.

When was your Clifford Chance interview? 

February [?]

What for? 

Vacation scheme

Please describe the interview process at Clifford Chance.

They made me feel at ease throughout the entire process. I had 2 interviews – one case study and one general to assess my suitability for the role.

What advice would you give to future applicants about the Clifford Chance interview?

Read through all of the case study information really clearly. They will pick up on small aspects and make them form a big part of your interview. Really assess the finer details but also look at them in the bigger picture as well.