A student has kindly shared his experience for the Norton Rose Fulbright interview. This will later be copied in the relevant interview experiences section, but I'll post it here first, as he has gone out of his way to provide some fantastic detail and candid advice. Please see below.

"I believe my partner interview was a tad different because most of the experiences on my CV have been in NGO and journalism. The first question I got asked was why law, NRF and why commercial law (all in one). The conversation kind of kicked off from here. They asked me why I was not interested in politics and journalism. They also asked me whether I had stopped having/pursuing an interest in journalism, politics and Human rights law (I had worked at [redacted]) or whether it was something that I continued.

My why NRF answer focused on Emerging markets so I got asked what I would do if I started my career at NRF and all I did was purely domestic work. I also got asked what I think NRF should consider if it were to move into an emerging market. I used Nigeria as an example and from this example, they asked me whether they should move into Nigeria. After this, they asked me whether it was possible I will leave them for an African firm (kind of like why London if you are so interested in Africa). I also got asked what made NRF different from other firms I had applied to and where I see myself in the future.

Part of my interview answers included talking about the opportunity I had to interact with people at NRF, so I got asked whether there was an NRF type and what they (the trainees I met) had described their experience at NRF. I also got asked what type of character I noticed from the people I spoke to. They also asked me whether I was prepared to do the less stimulating work.

They asked me what I thought bothered them at the moment. So, I mentioned increasing competition for clients and Trump’s trade war. Most of the discussion focused on Trump’s trade war and my answer got scrutinized closely. They narrowed down on my statements such as “demand for risk management services will increase as a result of the trade war” and asked what I meant by that statement and how I thought risk management will work supposing Trump made an opportunity a client wanted to exploit illegal. They also asked me how I thought the trade war was going to end/whether I thought it was going to end well.

I also got asked what I felt was my greatest weakness, I gave being too detailed, so they said that’s not too bad a weakness and asked me for another weakness. After this, they asked me which kind of team member I dislike working with, what I felt the job of a trainee was, and considering I had such an interest in NGO work how will I handle a scenario if where I was asked to work for a client I did not necessarily agree with. They then asked me one SJT about what how I will handle being asked to take up extra work late in the day or something like that.

From my experience, I think you should have answers that prove you are certain you have an interest in commercial law and if you have dabbled in something else before a deciding on a career in CL have an answer on why you are not more chasing the alternative. I also think compared to my interviews at Skadden and Slaughter and May, Norton Rose is very commercial heavy and I was not expecting to be asked which country NRF should invest.

I think one thing I did that helped me was learning some key industry factors and tying them into my answers. So like when I said NRF was forward-looking by investing in Emerging Markets and Renewable Energy where they now have Tier One capabilities, I also said RE is supposed to take in 8 trillion in investment by 2050 and only a firm like NRF that has already secured high-level mandates like financing the building Serbia’s biggest RE farm (I think) will be at the forefront of capitalising on the surge in investment (in a more elaborate way though). I also knew somethings about Nigeria’s economic prospects which made discussing whether NRF should move into Nigeria very easy.

They kept a poker face but I think they were lowkey impressed. Just avoid making your answers too long by trying to add too much commercial info and this tactic may help! Also, get ready for any follow up questions like whether you are interested in RE and what you feel are they challenges facing the RE industry (I did not get asked pheww). Key advice: Be able to answer any follow-up question on what you mention."
Hi everyone!

Demi Joannides, a future trainee at Herbert Smith Freehills, has kindly offered to share her application advice to students at TCLA.

Enjoy :)

The Online Application

Choose quality over quantity

As with many firms, the online application is in some ways both the most important part and the hardest part of the application process. While many find interviews and assessment centres more challenging, most applicants are unsuccessful at the online application stage and on any online tests. Once you’re invited to interview, the chances of being offered a vacation scheme are statistically higher as you have already successfully passed other stages of the application process.

It’s no secret that [quality over quantity] is highly debated. I’ve heard stories about how people applied to fifteen law firms and received fifteen vacation scheme offers. Great. but this is very rare. In reality, those who send off fewer targeted applications which are of superstar quality are far more likely to be invited to interview than those who send off countless half-hearted applications. I applied to four firms and was invited to interview at all four. I ranked the firms in order of preference (making a note of each application deadline) and worked on one application at a time. As a rule, I never started a new application until I had submitted the previous one. This way I was sure that each application was the best it could be and had absolutely no spelling or grammar mistakes!

Demonstrate stellar commercial awareness

The concept of commercial awareness itself is quite abstract and it can be hard to know what law firms actually look for. The best piece of advice that I received was that they are simply looking for an ‘awareness’. Yes commercial awareness is very broad, use this to your advantage. A great place to start is by reading Richard Susskind’s “Tomorrow’s Lawyers”. Having a general understanding of the issues discussed...
I recently learned one of our students secured a training contract at a top US law firm. He wishes to stay anonymous for reasons which will become obvious as you read. Here is his story.

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"Well, of course, we do have some students who flourish in the sixth form, but until you do, you may want to re-consider your university and career choices…”.

These were the words of the assistant head at my former school in my interview for a place in the sixth form when I told him I wanted to go into law. The same words which still rang in my head the day I received a phone call that I had been given a training contract offer from an elite US law firm. (Would like to take this opportunity to thank Jaysen and the rest of the team at the Corporate Law Academy yet again).

Of course, I was elated and have accepted – after all, it was everything I had been working for, for the past 5 years, and is with a dream firm of mine. But one of the more unexpected feelings that I wake up with every morning now is humility and gratefulness. Which is why when Jaysen asked me to write a short motivational piece I happily obliged.

Given that it is the time of the year when training contract offers are being given out, being rejected can be (excuse the language) a bit shit to say the least. As there is more than enough content on this site alone on application and interview technique, I thought I’d share a bit about my journey and my two cents on the bits that not everyone talks about and I too often found myself wishing someone had told me earlier – in the hope that this provides some sort of inspiration to at least someone out there.

My family moved to the U.K from a developing country when I was still a toddler. My father died when I was six years old and so we grew up on benefits, for the majority of my school years anyway. It wasn’t until my one of my elder siblings graduated from university and began working that things got a little brighter. For the most part...
(I can't believe it's already August!)

For those of you applying for training contracts for the 31 July deadline, I hope it all went okay!

In the meantime, I thought I'd start writing up some stories for the week. Everyone is welcome to contribute any links/updates of your own if you want to.

Here is the first one:

Global interest rates
The story: The Federal Reserve kept its interest rate unchanged. It noted that economic activity is rising at a strong rate, with low unemployment rates and strong business spending growth.

Japan’s central bank also pledged to keep interest rates “extremely low” for an extended period and to keep buying bonds under its big stimulus programme.

Meanwhile, the UK central bank, the Bank of England, raised interest rates by 0.25% to 0.75%. This is the second time interest rates have risen since 2007 and it’s now at its highest level since the financial crisis.

Impact on businesses and law firms:

The decision to raise interest rates follows faster rises in prices and wages than had been expected. Interest rates have been very low for a long time, and the decision follows a rising inflation rate which is above the target rate of 2%.

Some business groups criticised the decision to raise rates, especially as the UK is still suffering from significant uncertainty over Brexit, which will be a shock to business and consumer confidence on its own.

Rising interest rates could lead to less spending, as businesses and millions of consumers face higher costs on existing loans, and may be hesitant to take out more expensive mortgages and other loans.

But on the other hand, financial markets and investors were well prepared for the decision (which is why the pound didn’t rise by much). Savings banks will do well as consumers save more to take advantage of the higher rates and commercial banks will make more money on their loans.
I just wanted to ask, how long did it take you guys to secure a training contract

This was my first year of applying, I had three interviews and I was unsuccessful in all 3 along with no vacation schemes. I am a law graduate.

The prospect of waiting another year is killing me and all my non-law friends have secured top jobs some with GSK , some with Merril Lynch and I am not jealous at all, it's just I am feeling like a failure and for the first time, I literally have no energy left in me.

People are telling to go join IBM become a business consultant or data consultant as you won't have to wait 2 years and Its just a downward spiral feeling.

I dont even know why I am typing but I am hoping somebody is out there with a story that motivates me to get back up.
I wanted to share a recent report by Allen & Overy, some very interesting conclusions.

The Future for Legal Talent
A major study into how lawyers view their careers in a new world

http://www.allenovery.com/news/en-gb/articles/Pages/The-Future-for-Legal-Talent-Report.aspx.

Here's a summary; I've highlighted some of the points I found interesting.
  • Whilst 55% of law students said they have a clear vision on the direction of their legal career, that figure fell to 23% in the first five years of practice.
  • 81% of current lawyers think many young lawyers won't feel the path to partnership is worth it, although students disagreed with this.
  • 83% lawyers interviewed think that lawyers starting out now will have a different career experience compared to 5/10 years ago.
  • 81% students believe tech will let them focus on the more creative aspects of the legal role. Conversely, 5% believe it'll increase the risk of redundancy.
  • 84% think they'll need different skills today compared to 5/10 years ago, 30% felt the existing training adequately prepared them for it.
  • Some of the most important skill sets they're looking for include technological expertise, commercial awareness, building a personal brand and a network of contacts and peers.
  • There's a big interest in further learning and training from students as many feel ill-prepared. Many students expect to return to study at some point.
  • Work/life balance was identified as the most important criterion for career success and almost half said they expect to work less than five days a week.
  • Allen & Overy's research show - alongside legal expertise - increased interpersonal skills, adaptability and emotional intelligence will be the most important skills for lawyers considering a...
Hey guys,

I was lucky enough to get taken along to this all day conference yesterday which featured both a cracking guest list and free breakfast & lunch, an all-round win really.

I thought you may find it helpful to hear a little bit about some of the things that were mentioned, as it'll directly affect you all in the near future. You have to bear with me though, I lost some of my notes from the day so there will be parts mostly from memory.

Session 1

The morning session was all short talks (around 10 minutes) about innovation in the industry & what kind of future it may hold.

We heard from David Halliwell (Director of Knowledge & Innovation Delivery at Pinsent Masons) who spoke at length about how the roles within law are changing. He pointed some of the roles now available include legal technologists, legaltech project managers and legal engineers (although Scottish firm Cloch Solicitors are trying to trademark the term apparently, so be careful how you use it!). He went on to talk about how this reflects the move in the industry from the traditional route and how it may well open up to a point where we have far, far more roles on offer within law firms.

Next up was Isabel Parker (Chief Legal Innovation Officer at Freshfields) who spoke on the topic of diversity, namely cognitive diversity. The idea of pushing creativity within firms, rather than mechanical operatives. She mentioned the need to look for out of the box candidates, rather than hiring within their own image. So, on that note, I think we can expect more and more paths to pop up as the magic circle and others look for a different kind of thinker.
Parker also spoke about the need for law firms to encourage more people to get involved with technology but also to allow solicitors in firms the freedom to play (and fail) with technology. On that note, David Halliwell spoke about how Pinsent Masons have set up a programme which allows solicitors to have a coupon inhouse which counts as a "discount" against their billable hours targets, thus hours they plug into lawtech sessions are hours they don't have to try to make up elsewhere.

Third session was from Shruti Ajitsaria (Head of Fuse at Allen & Overy). Shruti was probably my favourite speaker of the day and is generally just a great source of friendly information - if any of you want something to put on your CV you may want to look into (politely) contacting her to find out if you can go down to Fuse to see what they do down there, as she mentioned she was open to the idea yesterday of solicitors coming in and I doubt she would mind law students contacting her too.

Shruti spoke about how she got to opening Fuse after working as a derivatives solicitor at A&O for a long time and becoming frustrated at the lack of tech coming through. She mentioned an example of frustration during the GFC. A&O had a ton of derivatives agreements, which were created in Microsoft Word, printed off, signed and filed away somewhere. They had thousands of these, with 90% of them being pretty standard with identical clauses. After the crisis began, clients would need to know what the contract said about e.g. insolvency. So they would have to dig out the derivatives contract, from thousands, flick to the right page to find the insolvency clause. Or they needed to know whether the contract was signed. So they would have to dig out the derivatives contract, from thousands, flick to the right page and check whether it was signed etc. She said a simple monitoring program which could have automated this would have saved them hours of time but the problem was this was how derivatives had always been done and change is a difficult thing to push in law firms.

Fuse works with all departments of A&O and encourages them all to work with the tech companies and try to create something, with the end goal to try to develop a better work/life balance for their lawyers and attempt to cut down on the 60/70/80 hour week by moving the time-consuming manual labour over to technology.

Last up in the session was Julia Salasky, (founder of CrowdJustice) who worked for Linklaters and the UN before growing frustrated with the lack of creativity with which she was able to do her work. Everything is very much how it has always been, so she wanted to do something differently. She spoke a lot about having an entrepreneurial attitude and what that means; she basically boiled her most important lessons down to not being afraid to fail and accepting that there are some fires which you can't put out as you work. Sometimes you have to let the fires in the business burn whilst you concentrate on other areas.

Session 2

The second morning session talked about the skills that the next generation of lawyers need/the current missed when they were hired. It featured research from BPP and talks from Jo-Anne Pugh (Director of Strategic Design at BPP), Adam Corphey (Head of Innovation Technology at BPP) and Mark Collins (Global Head of Knowledge Management at Herbert Smith).

They had conducted research before the conference with 77 legal entitites (inc. Global firms, National firms, Regional firms, Small/Boutique, in-house etc) to find out exactly what they felt were missing. The 9 areas they highlighted for future candidates, with the ones they chose as most important in bold, are:

  • Commerciality - i.e. commercial awareness, understanding the law firm is a business, understanding business trends etc
  • Tech/Digital skills - i.e. the ability to analyse tech and data, awareness of lawtech (with exposure to it a big plus in their eyes - you can get exposure by heading to demo events etc)
  • Written Communication - Interestingly, they said written communication is a major area which needs improvement upon hiring. They said the ability to write concisely with attention to detail just isn't there in new hires, even when simply drafting written comms in the form of emails, and they spend a lot of time developing this.
  • Client facing skills - Personally think it's a bit of a weird one for them to have highlighted. It doesn't seem an area that students can work on that heavily? Maybe Jaysen will disagree and come up with examples of how to develop these skills but personally believe this is something which law firms should expect to teach, not expect future candidates to have.
  • Flexibility & Resilience - I think probably obvious that adaptability is a big skill to be sought out by firms at the moment. With Lawtech & the SQE coming in, there seems a lot of change to be afoot in the legal industry and they want candidates that they feel can deal with this.
  • Professionalism - Not just how you present yourself at interviews (appearance, etiquette etc) but also other areas too such as your social media presence, as social media begins to play a bigger part of day-to-day professional life and moves away from being a totally separate entity.
  • Time & Self-management - Law firms want, more and more, someone who can demonstrate that they can manage themselves and their time effectively. They mentioned examples such as demonstrating project management skills (even on a small scale such as planning and organisation of group activities).
  • Teamwork - They highlighted the various real functions of what they meant by this. They don't just mean playing in your local football team but rather displaying emotional intelligence and a desire to work within a team to better serve firms who are, increasingly, working across business functions with mixed teams.They also said email has begun to destroy internal social interactions and they want candidates who would prefer to walk across the office and actually talk to the person they need to.
  • Creativity - The final skill they selected as important, they want candidates who are creative and have new ways of thinking. Try to figure out ways of displaying this on your application but, also, take it with a pinch of salt given I'm not entirely convinced they mean they want an entirely new breed of candidate, rather a slightly creative variant on the ones they get now.
Hey guys :)

I used to find it helpful to write down all my extracurriculars/answers to competency questions, which I could then review before telephone, video and face to face interviews.

If you want to do the same, we created a ready-made PDF for you to use. You can access it here:
https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/thecorporatelawacademy/Law+Competency+Interview+Plan.pdf

Nicole
The impact of the GDPR on businesses and law firms - Part 1

What is it?

The General Data Protection Regulation or "GDPR" is an EU-wide regulation which regulates the processing of personal data. It's the biggest change to EU data protection law in decades and aims to harmonise the rules on data protection and security between member states.

When is it happening?

25 May 2018

Who does it apply to?

The GDPR applies to any EU-based organisation that controls and/or processes data. It also applies to organisations outside the EU, if they offer goods and services to, or monitor the behaviour of, EU citizens.

These organisations are called data controllers and data processors.

What's the difference between a controller and a processor?

A data controller determines why and how personal data is processed. A data processor processes personal data on behalf of the data controller.

For example, imagine MyStock is a company that sells stock photos to consumers. MyStock decides that it wants to track its website visitors. It hires Analytica, a website analytics company that tracks how users interact with websites. Here, MyStock is the data controller and Analytica is the data processor.
How are law firms structured?

Most large commercial law firms operate as a limited liability partnership or "LLP". An LLP, like a company, has a separate legal personality. It can enter into contracts, incur debts and conduct business in its own name. If things go wrong, the members of the LLP - the partners - are only liable to the extent agreed (or as stated in the members agreement).

A majority of the large commercial firms have moved to an LLP. In the UK top 50, Slaughter and May is the only general partnership. As a general partnership, the firm is not obliged to register or file accounts with Companies House, so it's good for law firms that want to keep their financials private. But it's not so good if things go wrong because the partners in a general partnership have unlimited liability - so each partner is personally responsible for the debts/liabilities of the firm.

The partnership - whether an LLP or general partnership - is a structure that has been used by law firms for decades. The equity partners own the law firm and have a right to share in the profits once the firm's expenses are paid. They're flexible vehicles that can deal with changes to the partnership and compensation. As owners of the business, partners get a say in how a law firm is run, although the overall law firm strategy is often delegated to an executive committee.