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

Sidley Austin Interview

When was your Sidley Austin interview? 

October 2017

What was it for? 

Vacation Scheme

Please describe the interview process at Sidley Austin.

It was a one hour interview with two partners and the HR manager.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Sidley Austin interview?

The interview was very commercial awareness and motivation based. There were no questions about why I applied to Sidley, or competency questions. As a non-law candidate, they focused a lot of why I had chosen a legal career and why I didn’t study law. There were also quite a lot of technical questions about particular areas of corporate law, but I think this was only because I specifically brought up my interest in them. So, if you have an interest in a certain legal area, only bring it up if you’re genuinely interested and able to engage in a long discussion about it with a partner who may also have an interest.

There were two distinctive aspects of the interview that made it memorable for me. Firstly, it very much so felt like an (intense!) discussion. Clearly the partners didn’t have any questions prepared beforehand – they responded with follow up questions, and probed the answers that I gave, so it flowed quite naturally. The partners would pick up on something and challenge it, so be prepared to justify your answers and hold your ground. For motivation and commercial questions, general interview preparation will be useful here so that you feel more confident and assured in your responses.

Secondly, we had quite an “abstract” discussion and I have heard this is quite common in Sidley interviews, it might be a commercial or political event, for example, and the partner will give an overview of it and ask your opinion. There isn’t a right or wrong answer and it’s all about seeing how you think on your feet and work towards an opinion. I would advise taking a moment to gather your thoughts, take a sip of water and think before launching into an answer, if you get this type of question. You can’t prepare for this, you just have to be sharp on the day.

Overall, it was one of my favourite interviews. It was challenging and difficult, but the partners were friendly and engaged. Keep an open mind and be prepared to think on your feet. However, the head of HR sits in on every interview to make sure there’s someone who can compare all candidates and I think this indicates that the firm might be flexible in how it interviews – it depends on the style of the partners and someone from HR is there to take into account when some partners ask more difficult questions, for example.

When was your Sidley Austin interview? 

February 2018

What was it for? 

Vacation Scheme

Please describe the interview process at Sidley Austin.

Consisted of one interview with 2 partners and the HR manager. Lasted for approximately 1 hour. The HR manager just sits there and takes notes so all the questioning is done by the partners both of whom were very friendly and charismatic which gave a very good impression of the firm!

The first half of the interview was centered around general questions e.g. why law, why Sidley Austin etc; it was essentially like a normal conversation.

The second half was based on a case study that they devised based on a transaction. They would continuously expand on the example they gave with numerous spin-off questions. I was surprised at how much depth they required in terms of technical commercial knowledge.

Overall, I enjoyed the interview process!

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Sidley Austin interview?

The firm is very focused on finance & private equity so make sure that you have a good understanding as to how financial transactions are conducted. They will expect you to know how the different departments operate and you need to be prepared to be quizzed on the spot.

Make sure you have a very clear answer as to why you want to work for Sidley Austin in particular, and how they are distinguished from the other American firms as well as Magic Circle law firms.

Sidley Austin interview (vacation scheme)

Sidley Austin was pretty much a conversation for half an hour with two senior partners. Their questions were quite generic and were based firmly around my understanding of what type of work I would be doing at the firm. They asked me about a recent deal that had interested me, so I focused on a recent acquisition that had taken place with Jim beans being taken over by a Japanese whisky producer. Jim beans were the longstanding client of SA and they asked what sort of departments were involved and how they would have used the international offices to help with the deal. That was all relatively straight forward

They do however like to push you a bit further, particularly when it comes to the types of documents you may need to produce as part of this. I think this is where I fell down slightly because for some reason, we got onto the tax element of the deal and why it was so important for most M&A deals and what type of work a trainee would help with in this department. I came up with a few sensible suggestions however I didn’t have a great knowledge about this at the time. They also like the magic circle firms have a fair few questions when it’s comes to banking and finance. I believe they are pretty strong in this area

After this part you go for coffee with a trainee and discuss how it went. This is still the interview because they feed back to the partners I believe.