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

Slaughter and May Interview

When was your Slaughter and May interview? 

May 2018

What was it for? 

Training Contract

Please describe the interview process at Slaughter and May.

The interview was unlike any other interview I’d done before. On the whole it’s not really one you can prepare for. It was mainly commercial and business based. Start off with the standard why law, why commercial law. Then they choose a module you did in uni and ask you to discuss some of the issues you learnt about and your opinion. Very technical stuff. From there its all business based. I didnt get asked any questions about my experiences they didnt even mention anything from my cv other than the module i did. Thats the first half of the interview. The next is discussing an article. Essentially there will be an element of debate and whatever side you take they take the opposite. Again I found mine to be very technical focusing on what legislation id put in place to deal with the issue. They question thoroughly at this part!

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Slaughter and May interview?

The only part of the interview you can prepapre for is the article. I’d say if you read the FT everyday for 2 weeks before your interview you’ll be fine. (The article I got was one I read before.) Focus on current trends because it is very unlikeley they’ll choose something very obscure. Also dont be worried about knowing about the topic, despite having read the article I got before, I found that its more legal based and having an opinion as opposed to having a thorough understanding of the news story. If you vaguely know what’s going on you’ll be safe.

When was your Slaughter and May interview? 

April 2018

What was it for? 

[Not provided]

Please describe the interview process at Slaughter and May.

An hour to read through some documents and to write an email with recommendations to the client; 15 minutes or so sitting in reception reading an article; an interview with two partners about competencies, motivations and discussing the article; an office tour by a trainee; an interview with someone from HR.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Slaughter and May interview?

The case study is pretty straightforward, but it’s really important to manage your time well. For me, it was reading through different possible business strategies and writing a recommendation to a client for which would be the best future option. Maybe brush up on your SWOT analysis for this, it could be helpful when it comes to structuring your answer. You’re given the option to type it or write it.

After this, you’re given a short article to read for about 15 minutes in the reception area. I had more than 15 minutes because my interviewers were late. You can take notes. A partner then collects you from the reception.

The interview with partners was okay. It wasn’t very conversational in my experience though – it felt a bit “question-answer” and the partners both had extreme pokerface. Don’t expect them to start talking about the article straightaway – this was the second half of my interview. Form an opinion and be able to articulate your arguments clearly.

The HR interview is a strange one. I’m not really sure what this is all about – I think just getting a feel for you and putting a face to the name when it comes to eventually having a discussion about who gets an offer. It covered the partner interview, what I felt had gone well and not so well, other work experience. They said that this wasn’t actually “assessed” but that’s rubbish, it 100% is and the HR person takes loads of notes so stay in interview mode.

When was your Slaughter and May interview? 

April 2018

What was it for? 

Training Contract

Please describe the interview process at Slaughter and May.

Very organised, relax and stripped back. This firm’s assessment day is straightforward and puts you at ease. You arrive and are directed to sit down in the client waiting area. A member of HR greets you and takes you to a meeting room where you complete the written exercise. This is a 1-hour activity, normally a merger or acquisition, or advice on how and whether to expand. You type your answer on a computer – they recommend typing 2-3 A4 pages. It is time pressured. Once the time is up, you are taken back to the waiting area and given an article to read with a pen and some paper to make notes. This will be on a current topic.

After 15-20 minutes one of the partners will collect you and take you to another meeting room. Both partners will introduce themselves and ask some ice breaker questions, and then launch straight in. Once the interview is finished, a trainee will collect you and give you a tour of the offices, before dropping you back to the waiting area. Finally, a member of HR will do a quick rundown and ask about other offers, where else you applied etc.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Slaughter and May interview?

For the written exercise, do research on how mergers and acquisitions work, what things are relevant when expanding, how companies work, and basically what clients worry about when they are expanding or need your advice. Time manage extremely well because it is pressured. For the partner exercise, understand that it is entirely motivational – they will dig deep, for me they spent 15-20 minutes just talking about my A-levels, why I chose them and how I decided that doing a law degree was the way I wanted to go. They also asked my about my university choice, one of my module marks and why the firm. I felt it was quite relaxed and not as harsh as others made it out, but this definitely depends on which partners you get. For the commercial article, they asked for a summary, what the author was arguing, what I thought and what my position would be and why, and they challenged me in that respect. Definitely take a look at your CV and forensically go through how everything on it supports your decision to pursue a training contract.

Future trainee at Slaughter and May, anonymous

Of course! I’ve jotted down a couple of points below which will hopefully be of some use (they’re probably slightly generic, but perhaps useful).

1. The written exercise is very time restricting. I was provided with information and had to write a business strategy for a company, so general knowledge of business models (SWOT, Porter’s Five Forces etc.) is definitely useful! Avoid going into too much detail, otherwise you will not finish it in time!

2. After you finish the written exercise you’re given around 15 minutes to read an article, and you sit in the reception to read it (which I hadn’t experienced elsewhere). My article was on technology in business, so touching on AI. The partner then comes to collect you and takes you to the interview. Don’t expect them to start with the article first! The first 30 minutes of my interview was based on me, motives, commercial awareness etc. Apparently it depends on the partners, so just be aware that this may be the case.

3. My interview was very commercially focused in comparison to other interviews, although that was just my experience. My interviewers also placed a lot of emphasis on which other firms I had applied to, and why! So be prepared to back your decisions up. Make sure you know why they are different to the other firms you have applied to (i.e multi-specialist, their international approach is very different). The interview itself is very much a conversation. The interviewers are really interested in getting to know you! Definitely be commercially prepared and be up to date with the news, and have opinions on everything you read! (I know everyone says that, but it was particularly true of Slaughter and May).

4. For the article, my advice would be the same for all firms – make sure you clearly articulate yourself succinctly, and sum up the article in your own words and outline the key arguments in the article. The partners really do push you! They do challenge your views, so stand firm when they do challenge you! They will challenge everything you say (more so than at other firms). I’ve heard a lot of people say how terrible the “interrogation” was at Slaughter and May, but I really didn’t feel that. It is challenging, but I think it challenges you in a good way. I genuinely felt that I was having a debate with the partners.

5. The short interview with HR at the end is a strange one. You sit in the reception and they ask you how you think they day went, what you thought went well/bad, what you had learnt etc. I had a really positive experience, so it was easy to discuss the day with HR. They ask again which firms you have applied, whether you’ve had any interviews/offers etc. Just be friendly and yourself. It’s part of the interview, but it’s just very informal.

My Slaughter and May Experience

My Written exercise

My written exercise was very basic, you had to advise the CEO of an online retail company on which of a list of (four I think) suggested strategies by your consulting company should he adopt in order to help him [redacted] (NB: in your capacity as a consultant). The CEO was facing increasing investor pressure to invest the company’s profits or pay dividends and the owner of the company who sat on the board preferred a strategy different from the CEO’s own ([redacted]) so there was a bit of conflict of interest. You have to read about 7 pages of documents and you have a bit of a graph I think so pace yourself. My advice is that you should practice using SWOT and Porters 5, they can help with evaluating an investment decision. You can also have a look at ACCA’s P3 practice questions and answers at…xams-study-resources/p3/past-exam-papers.html

The actual Slaughter and May case study is not as deep as ACCA’s but seeing where they use basic frameworks like SWOT to evaluate strategies could help. ACCA is a professional exam so do not expect to write like them, just look at them as an example of how to use basic frameworks if you need to.

NB: You have to write your recommendation in 2-3 pages only so try to be succinct and legible. You have 1hr, by the way, to read through the docx and provide a recommendation. That’s good time if you plan well.

15 mins to read a current affairs article

After the case study, you are led to the reception to read a current affairs article. Mine was on social media as a threat to our democracy (taking an example from the Brexit referendum) so quite unusual. A partner then picks you up for the Partner interview.

Partner Interview 2 partners

NB: My interview was a tad different because most of my experiences had been in journalism and NGO.

They started by introducing themselves then asked me about [my university] and why I chose to study abroad. They then asked about my interest in commercial law and drilled heavily on this aspect asking about why I was not considering a career in the alternative fields I had dabbled in. At one point in this conversation, they asked about my [subject] grade which was quite low compared to my other grades and asked me what I found difficult in [subject]. They asked how [subject] was assessed to see if I preferred one form of assessment to another. They also asked about (and checked my reasoning behind) my college subject choices, law degree choices, my UCAS choices, choice of University, why I had no vacation schemes, what I had found difficult about adapting to the British educational system, and why what I found difficult felt difficult. During this conversation, I mentioned my [subject] coursework (I used this as bait to bring them to my turf), and then they asked me about my [subject] coursework and we discussed the objective standard of care for a bit (that is what my coursework was on.).

At one point in my conversation, they asked me which other firms I had applied to and where SM fits into my decisions. They also wanted me to prove my interest in commercial law through this question so when I mentioned the Sainsbury-Asda deal they asked me what issues a lawyer will consider if working on that deal (Jaysen’s M&A case study helped here and some wider reading on the deal as well).

After this they moved on to the article I had read asked me to summarise it in two to three words and asked me whether I agreed with some of the arguments. They then drilled on specific issues, particularly, whether social media should be regulated. When I made statements like social media hate ads fuels emotional thinking they asked why I felt that was a wrong thing to do particularly since politicians already play on our emotions (e.g dislike for refugees) to score political points. Key advice: Get prepped to think quickly why certain scenarios are different from another in other to support your argument.

Trainee walk: After your Partner Interview you get to chat with a trainee who shows you around their offices.

HR Interview

The HR Interview is just about discussing what went well during your Case Study and PI and what you feel you could have improved on. She also asks about which other firms you are interviewing with and how you intend to make a decision. I think they were questions about your motivation to have a career in law, but I cannot actually remember. I felt most of it was on you reflecting on your experience. Expect the HR interviewer to write a lot during this session.

*I did not get a TC at SM but If I were to do the AC again my advice will be:

For the CS: Do not freak out. Remember you are already prepped for the task through your previous practice.

For the PI: Practice getting tackled on why commercial law/why not banking or consulting/why not politics or journalism /why this experience and why do you have this and not that etc

Good luck!