Slaughter and May

Congratulations on your interview!

Slaughters is a really difficult interview to prepare for, not because it is difficult in itself, but because it is unpredictable. I personally had a very conversational, not-so-commercial interview, but I have heard of many others who had structured, extremely commercial interviews.

A few things I would recommend for the partner interview:

  • Be confident. This is literally the most important piece of advice I can give. The Slaughters interview is very much based on partners getting a feel for your personality and whether you will fit into their firm. 200 of their 220 partners trained at the firm, so ‘fit’ is quite important that way. Of course, there is more to your personality than just being confident, but by being nervous and uncomfortable you are definitely not demonstrating that ‘fit’. I used to go into interviews thinking I had ‘gotten lucky’, thinking it was a fluke. That really affected the way I interviewed, and generally made my interviewers uncomfortable. Go into your interview knowing you have everything it takes to be there, and that you 100% deserve to get the job (or vac scheme). That will help make your answers more convincing, your demeanour more relaxed and the interview less stressful generally.
  • Have 4-5 large news stories you have been following. I usually pick about 3 massive stories (Brexit, US-China trade war etc) and 1-2 smaller stories that I personally find interesting. You are bound to be tested in some way about your commercial awareness, either in your interview or case study, so knowing about the 3 massive stories shows that at least you are aware about popular and current affairs. Having 1-2 smaller stories is helpful just in case they ask you about something you’ve been following, and you can talk about a less cliche topic and one that is genuinely interesting to you.
  • Know your CV inside out. This sounds really obvious, but you need to know everything you have written on your application form, and thought about all the possible questions that might be asked based on that information. For example, if I wrote I was working at a fintech startup, they might ask me what my role was, why did I choose the startup vs a law firm, what did the startup do, etc. If you’ve highlighted a specific task you did, eg ‘drafted opinion on securitisation’, be prepared for questions like ‘what is securitisation’. The last thing you want is to look like you’ve exaggerated on your application form.
  • Prepare questions to ask after the interview! My conversation with the partners after the interview went on for quite some time, and I got the feeling they were testing both my interest in the firm and also my ability to hold a conversation. Read some of their latest publications, have a look through what the press has been saying about them and come up with 2-3 prepared questions. The rest will flow naturally.

On the 15-minute article, it is always an opinion piece either from The Times, FT or Guardian. The topic is highly unpredictable, but it will never be anything too technical. Just have a grasp of what the article is about, have a viewpoint, and be ready to defend it.

The case study isn’t very difficult. You’re given 60 minutes – really plenty of time, as the case study itself is only a few pages long. You have the option to type or handwrite – definitely choose to type, unless you’re really fast at writing!

The HR interview is really casual, but still assessed, so maintain your professionalism and answer the questions. I was asked about how I thought I did in the interview, and a couple of motivational questions.

Slaughter and May TC Interview

Just sharing my experience of my successful Slaughters TC interview for future reference.

The interview consisted of a written case study, 15-minute reading exercise, partner interview and HR interview.

Case study
The case study was fairly straightforward – I was given an hour and this was more than enough time to read, structure and type out 2-3 pages.

I was asked to advise the CEO of a fictitious construction company on three alternative business growth strategies, and to decide which was the best option. There were some very basic graphs and charts given – do not skip over these! They are not difficult to read at all, but your case study will be quite incomplete if you don’t synthesise the information from these.

Reading exercise
I had 25 minutes instead of 15 for my reading exercise. It was an opinion piece by the Guardian on changing social habits and shifting demographics. It was not a technical piece at all. I was given a pen and some paper to make notes, and sat in the lounge for this exercise.

Partner interview
The partner interview was with two partners. It was very conversational, and I was not asked any commercial awareness questions. I was also not asked directly ‘why Slaughter and May’. However, I have heard that some partners prefer a more structured and commercial style, so be prepared for both.

Most of the questions were based on my CV and application form, so I would really recommend knowing your CV like the back of your hand and thinking of all the possible follow-up questions that could be based off of your CV. Because I wasn’t directly asked ‘why Slaughter and May’, I tried to indirectly align most of the conversation with my motivation and fit for the firm. Some questions I got included:

  • Why your university?
  • Why law?
  • Explain the disparity between your highest and lowest university grade.
  • What was your dissertation about?
  • Where else have you applied?

We also discussed the article for about 10 minutes at the end, and the conversation was very much about seeing whether I was quick on my feet when questioned about my opinion. In retrospect, I don’t think any of the answers I gave were technically ‘impressive’, but I was sure not to appear startled or fazed by their prodding, and instead calmly thought about their questions and answered as best I could.

HR interview
The HR interview was very relaxed. Most of the questions overlapped with the questions asked in the interview, and were also based off of my CV. It was in a very relaxed setting – on the couch in the lounge – but it is still assessed so try to maintain your professionalism. I was asked questions like:

  • Why law?
  • How did you feel about the partner interview?
  • How did you feel about the case study?
  • Why your university?

My interview was completely different to what I had expected or read about. I studied Politics and Sociology at Uni, and they started off the interview asking why I got higher grades in Sociology than Politics on average. Then they picked up one topic I mentioned in my answer (the use of Twitter during the Arab Spring which I had studied in my first year of university) and spent basically the entire interview discussing my thoughts on this. We moved across topics such as whether social media should be regulated / how free speech comes into this but it was largely just based on this one topic which threw me as I hadn’t studied it in 3 years.

Then with the current affairs article it is largely what you would expect, just quite debatey and they will play devil’s advocate but it’s fine as long as you have a (coherent) argument. I didn’t get the sense that they were trying to catch me out at all and both interviewers were very pleasant and asked very interesting questions.

The main thing that stood out to me is that I didn’t really get any of the typical questions I was told to expect such as ‘why Slaughter and May’ or ‘Why commercial law’. I was asked what other firms I had applied to but I genuinely think that was the only legitimate ‘interview question’ I was asked. Really not like your typical interview at all!

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!