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Ask 3 future trainees (Magic & Silver Circle, International Elite) ANYTHING! *New TCLA Team Members*

Jacob Miller

Legendary Member
Future Trainee
Forum Team
  • Feb 15, 2020
    897
    2,352
    Hi all! Let me introduce myself: I'm Jacob, and, alongside @Naomi U and @Dheepa I've just joined TCLA as part of the forum team. This thread will be an AMA for all three of us!

    By way of introduction, I'm a future trainee at Travers Smith LLP (commencing Sept '23) and I'm currently in my final year of a Scots Law degree at the University of Aberdeen.

    I've more or less always wanted to go into law, but only really started exploring 'BigLaw' in early-2018- I had initially considered joining the criminal bar here in Scotland! I quickly realised that commercial practice in the City was far more up my street, and so began investigating career options in that field.

    My first application cycle was the Autumn/ Winter 2018 into 2019 cycle. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks before applications opened en mass, I was involved in a freak accident where I broke my back in 3 places and became paralysed. Thankfully, I've made a fairly full recovery since then but the recovery from that blighted my application season and I was only able to make one application to Clifford Chance's SPARK scheme, for which I was later invited to interview. I was unsuccessful at that (watch out for the full story coming fairly soon in a new thread) and then waited until the next application cycle, Autumn/ Winter 2019 into 2020, when I would be applying for Vacation Schemes. In that time, I worked on identifying the firms I was most interested in, creating a 'shortlist' of about 12-14 firms to whom I wanted to apply, researching them in some more depth and also working on my 'stock answers' (e.g., why law, why me, why X firm) that I knew I would have to hit in applications and at interviews.

    In the end, I made 12 applications to a wide variety of Magic Circle, Silver Circle, American and International Elite firms. I secured three interviews, with Travers Smith, Norton Rose Fulbright, and Herbert Smith Freehills. Of those, I was made VS offers by Travers and Norton Rose. I took part (virtually) in those schemes in July and September respectively, and was delighted to be made an offer by Travers Smith without having to attend an exit interview. I elected not to partake in the exit interview with Norton Rose as, for various reasons, I felt that Travers was the best firm for me- to that end, I don't know whether I would have been made an offer.

    Aside from Vacation Schemes, I'm also a RARE and AS candidate, and, as such, I've attended various events with a wide variety of Magic Circle, Silver Circle and International firms.

    I feel that my successes really came when I let my personality shine through everything I was doing- whether that was in my written application, at the interview stage or anywhere in between, as soon as I actually showed my personality and character to those assessing me, I started getting more offers. Is that because I have some sort of wonderfully charming and endearing personality? Well, although it would probably depend who you ask, that's not the case at all. It was because I realised that I was being assessed on so much more than just the substantive content and reasoning in written and oral responses. This is also content I'll go over in more detail in separate posts in the near future- keep your eyes peeled!

    That's all from me at the moment! I look forward to answering all your questions and I'm sure the rest of the team do too. Of course, my DMs are open if there's anything particularly private you'd like to discuss but, as with the general ethos of the forum, we'd really appreciate it if substantive discussion and questions were all kept on the thread!
     
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    Dheepa

    Legendary Member
    Staff member
    Future Trainee
    TCLA Moderator
    Premium Member
    Forum Team
    M&A Bootcamp
  • Jan 20, 2019
    852
    2,137
    Hi everyone,

    I’ve been a long time user of TCLA (some of you may be more familiar with my old username Ren97) and am really excited to be taking on this role with Naomi and Jacob. I’m currently taking a much-needed year out before my LPC and TC with Baker McKenzie in 2022.

    By way of background, I completed my first vacation scheme with Slaughter and May in the summer of my second year. I unfortunately did not manage to convert that into a training contract. As an international non-EU student, the anxiety of only having one more year to secure my dream job really kicked in after that. Although after some reflection I did realise that the rejection was probably for the best (as I had my doubts about whether I would have been happy at the firm) I had a hard time shaking off the huge knock in confidence and the increased self-doubt that rejection gave me.

    When I applied again my second cycle, I was far pickier with the firms I applied to. I only applied to firms that I really felt had a culture that I fit in with and had a strong emphasis on diversity. I also realised that part of the reason I was unsuccessful in my previous application cycle was that I was portraying what I thought firms wanted in trainees rather than being my authentic self. So I made sure that every interview I walked into, I really let my interviewers get to know me and started to focus on talking about more personal achievements and experiences that I’d had thus far. This approached worked wonders for me. In my second cycle, I secured three vacation schemes with Latham & Watkins, Baker McKenzie and NRF and was lucky enough to received TC offers from all three.

    My two biggest takeaways from the TC process is that firstly securing a TC is not an innate talent or ability some people have and others don’t. Instead it’s something that involves practice and honing skills (application writing skills, interview skills etc). TCLA was instrumental in helping me develop these skills and I really hope to be able to give back to the community that helped me. Secondly, rejection really does mean that there is a better firm, a better fit waiting for you. If your journey is longer/harder, it just means your calling is higher and I hope to be able to remind anyone struggling on the forums of that.

    If anyone has any questions, feel free to fire away! :)
     

    Naomi U

    Legendary Member
    Future Trainee
    Forum Team
    Dec 8, 2019
    221
    356
    Hi Everyone!

    My name is Naomi and I have just joined the TCLA as part of the forum team. This is truly a pleasure, as I know all too well just how daunting the application season can be. With this in mind, I look forward to assisting & supporting you all through the forum!

    For some background, I am a final year law student at the University of Warwick. I have always had a keen interest in both studying and practising the law, although my initial journey was not streamlined towards commercial law.

    Due to my varied interests, as well as truthfully, a lack of options, my first experience in a law firm was at a high-street firm specialising in Family Law and Immigration Law. During my first year of university, after being somewhat scarred by my first rejection from a commercial law firm, I opted to pursue yet another area of law, which resulted in a week-long placement at a firm specialising in Medical Negligence.

    Although I had fantastic experiences at both firms, I knew that I was looking for an area of law that was more fast-paced, business focused and international in nature. As such, I threw myself back into the corporate field in my second year, and although I faced my fair share of rejections, through the help of a number of amazing organisations such as TCLA, I was able to secure 5 interview invitations which led to 3 vacation scheme offers at Shearman & Sterling, Linklaters and Herbert Smith Freehills. I was fortunate enough to ultimately secure a training contract with Linklaters, following a fantastic vacation scheme experience in July. I look forward to joining the firm in March 2022!

    That’s all from me for now, but as mentioned by @Jacob Miller and @Dheepa, please feel free to fire away with any questions you may have!
     
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    Jacob Miller

    Legendary Member
    Future Trainee
    Forum Team
  • Feb 15, 2020
    897
    2,352
    Lovely to have you guys offering to do this thread :) I don't have any questions currently, but watching the thread to keep cheeky tabs on all the wisdom you'll share :D
    Great! Hopefully you'll be able to benefit from anything we can provide. If anything does come to mind, you're more than welcome to ask!
     

    Layla

    New Member
    Gold Member
    Premium Member
    Oct 20, 2018
    2
    0
    Hi, I was wondering whether you’re able to give tips regarding the video interview for the vacation scheme? I’ve got mine today and I’ve never actually made it to this stage before so I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and lost with how to do well at this stage.

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve been a long time user of TCLA (some of you may be more familiar with my old username Ren97) and am really excited to be taking on this role with Naomi and Jacob. I’m currently taking a much-needed year out before my LPC and TC with Baker McKenzie in 2022.

    By way of background, I completed my first vacation scheme with Slaughter and May in the summer of my second year. I unfortunately did not manage to convert that into a training contract. As an international non-EU student, the anxiety of only having one more year to secure my dream job really kicked in after that. Although after some reflection I did realise that the rejection was probably for the best (as I had my doubts about whether I would have been happy at the firm) I had a hard time shaking off the huge knock in confidence and the increased self-doubt that rejection gave me.

    When I applied again my second cycle, I was far pickier with the firms I applied to. I only applied to firms that I really felt had a culture that I fit in with and had a strong emphasis on diversity. I also realised that part of the reason I was unsuccessful in my previous application cycle was that I was portraying what I thought firms wanted in trainees rather than being my authentic self. So I made sure that every interview I walked into, I really let my interviewers get to know me and started to focus on talking about more personal achievements and experiences that I’d had thus far. This approached worked wonders for me. In my second cycle, I secured three vacation schemes with Latham & Watkins, Baker McKenzie and NRF and was lucky enough to received TC offers from all three.

    My two biggest takeaways from the TC process is that firstly securing a TC is not an innate talent or ability some people have and others don’t. Instead it’s something that involves practice and honing skills (application writing skills, interview skills etc). TCLA was instrumental in helping me develop these skills and I really hope to be able to give back to the community that helped me. Secondly, rejection really does mean that there is a better firm, a better fit waiting for you. If your journey is longer/harder, it just means your calling is higher and I hope to be able to remind anyone struggling on the forums of that.

    If anyone has any questions, feel free to fire away! :)
     

    Jacob Miller

    Legendary Member
    Future Trainee
    Forum Team
  • Feb 15, 2020
    897
    2,352
    Hi, I was wondering whether you’re able to give tips regarding the video interview for the vacation scheme? I’ve got mine today and I’ve never actually made it to this stage before so I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and lost with how to do well at this stage.
    I second this question! :)


    Of course!

    Video interviews are somewhat different than in-person interviews because they are usually somewhat jarring at the beginning with the usual "can you see me/ hear me okay?" type questions at the start. Generally speaking, though, they're okay thereafter- very similar to normal interviews, in my experience of them. If I had to give three 'top tips' they would probably be:

    1: Make sure your tech setup works beforehand, that your camera and lighting are good and your audio is crisp. Make sure you've got a solid internet connection. Ask someone you know to have a call with you on the same platform to ensure all these things are good to go, but make sure it's the same as the interview platform as different platforms convey video/ audio/ lighting etc slightly differently in my experience.
    2: Make sure whatever webcam you're using is looking straight on at you when you sit up straight and properly- if necessary, prop it up on a pile of books or get a laptop stand off Amazon (they can be purchased for less than £10). When using the webcam, make sure you're always looking straight into it rather than off to one side or the other. If you're using Zoom, or a platform which allows you to have a 'gallery view' with all call participants being displayed at once, use that function- especially if you have more than one interviewer.
    3: Don't over-think! It's easy to get panicky because video interviews are different to what we're used to. Though they're slightly nuanced, by no means are they dramatically more challenging. Remember as well that interviewers have the same reservations about video interviewers, 99 times out of 100 they will know the challenges they pose and be understanding/ empathic about them.

    As a little bonus tip, avoid the temptation to have notes around you etc. These cause your eyes to dart around and it looks as if you're looking away from the interviewer- in terms of notes, treat a video interview in the exact same way you would treat one in person.
     
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    Dheepa

    Legendary Member
    Staff member
    Future Trainee
    TCLA Moderator
    Premium Member
    Forum Team
    M&A Bootcamp
  • Jan 20, 2019
    852
    2,137
    Hi, I was wondering whether you’re able to give tips regarding the video interview for the vacation scheme? I’ve got mine today and I’ve never actually made it to this stage before so I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and lost with how to do well at this stage.

    Completely agree with everything that Jacob just said! Some additional tips:

    1. Expect a mix of competency and commercial questions. I think most of them are competency questions with one commercial one so prepare for some of the typical competencies that firms look for like teamwork, time management and resilience. Also prepare for the most common type of commercial question i.e. "Tell me about a recent news story and how it affects the firm".
    2. Practice - Maybe by talking aloud to a friend on skype or if you have a premium membership on TCLA, there's a great VI simulator.
    2. Make full use of the preparation time given to you. Most VI platforms give you 30 seconds to prepare your answer, so have a paper and pen next to you in case you need to jot your answers and key points down.
    3. Be as succinct as possible. The tough thing about VIs is that it's really difficult to get your point across on why you want to join a firm you really like/how you showed teamwork in 1.5 minutes. So keep a simple structure, use clear pointers like "Firstly, secondly, thirdly" if need be.
    5. Projection - However loudly you speak in real life, speak twice as loudly because I've always found from recording myself that audio can sometimes end up sounding muffled no matter how good of a recording device I have. Also speak slowly and clearly and try not to rush through your answers!
    6. Look at the webcam when you speak and not yourself/the screen (can feel a bit awkward doing this at first, but do try practicing it). It can also help to put the webcam at eye-level using books/a stand like Jacob mentioned.
    7. Enthusiasm - Smile a lot. Even if the VI is the last place you want to be (which for most people it is), make sure that you're desire to work at the firm is really conveyed in your body language!

    I don't know anyone that doesn't dislike video interviews and I was an absolute nervous wreck doing mine. But even when I stumbled, I always tried to remind myself to just take a deep breath and if really need be re-start the sentence or what I was saying. Like Jacob said, I think GR know how tough VIs are on everybody so don't be too hard on yourself if you slip up slightly.

    Good luck with your VI today, I'll have my fingers crossed for you!
     
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    Nandini

    New Member
    Jan 31, 2020
    1
    0
    @Deepha Thank you so much for doing this thread. Much like you I am also an international non-EU applicant- I am from India.
    I have a Clifford Chance AC coming up soon. I am very nervous because this is my first ever AC and I want to perform extremely well in this one. Please can you give me tips on how to excel at written exercises and interviews.

    Thank you!
     

    Jessica Booker

    Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment
    Premium Member
    Forum Team
    Aug 1, 2019
    8,086
    11,462
    Hi, I was wondering whether you’re able to give tips regarding the video interview for the vacation scheme? I’ve got mine today and I’ve never actually made it to this stage before so I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and lost with how to do well at this stage.

    upload_2020-12-29_15-23-33.jpeg
     

    Dheepa

    Legendary Member
    Staff member
    Future Trainee
    TCLA Moderator
    Premium Member
    Forum Team
    M&A Bootcamp
  • Jan 20, 2019
    852
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    Thank you @Jacob Miller, @Dheepa and @Jessica Booker! All of your tips were extremely helpful.


    I was wondering @Dheepa in particular, do you have any tips about the Baker McKenzie video interview? Sorry I forgot to mention that is the firm the interview is with!

    Bakers have a bank of questions they use and rotate through even within the same app cycle so I really don't have specifics that would be helpful unfortunately. I know you can definitely expect the four competency questions and one commercial one like I said. When I did mine there was also fun question about telling them something about yourself that would help them understand you better, but again no telling if that'll even come up again!
     
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    Owen Lee

    New Member
    M&A Bootcamp
  • Dec 29, 2020
    1
    1
    Hi there! This question is specifically directed to Jacob. I have recently received an invitation to take an interview with Norton Rose and was wondering if you had any tips for preparation and what kind of questions to expect based on your own interview experience? Thanks!
     
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    Jacob Miller

    Legendary Member
    Future Trainee
    Forum Team
  • Feb 15, 2020
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    Hi there! This question is specifically directed to Jacob. I have recently received an invitation to take an interview with Norton Rose and was wondering if you had any tips for preparation and what kind of questions to expect based on your own interview experience? Thanks!
    Hi Owen,

    More than happy to help. My AC was in person with NRF and involved an interview with two partners, a written assessment and an assessed groupwork task (a negotiation).

    The written assessment was a case study- but it's assessed standalone (i.e., you're not then interviewed on the basis of this answer). The Groupwork task that I was given, as I mentioned, was a negotiation- very simply, you're given a set of information and told on whose behalf you're negotiating, etc, and it's your job to work with your team to break down the different issues and negotiate with the opposing side to come to the best outcome for your client.

    The interview is competency-based, i.e. it's not massively focussed on a case study or situational judgement. I was asked the usual "why law/ why you/ why NRF' questions, as well as about what I'd been watching in the news, challenges to major law firms, and several "tell me about a time" qustions. Nothing that particularly caught me off guard!
     
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    DJMG

    Star Member
    Dec 20, 2020
    39
    113
    Hi guys! Thank you for setting up this thread.
    I was wondering roughly how many firms you all applied to? I have sent off 10 applications so far for spring/summer vac schemes. Some of them I've been invited to do WG tests, and one so far I have been invited to do a VI which I am yet to complete. I haven't had any rejections as of yet but a few of them are non-rolling so I won't hear until after the deadline. I am torn between firing off a few more applications before the January deadlines, or whether to have confidence in the ones I have sent and start prepping for the next rounds in the hopes that I get invited. I know that 'quality over quantity' is often the recommended approach, but equally I have also heard that luck can play a part with applications, so sending more off may increase my chances of success.
    Any advice appreciated! :)
     
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    Jacob Miller

    Legendary Member
    Future Trainee
    Forum Team
  • Feb 15, 2020
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    @Jacob Miller - how come you didn't have to do a final interview with Travers Smith? Was it because you were very personable on the VS?

    In all honesty, I'm not actually sure. A few people I know were made the same offer without an exit- I can only assume that it's because they felt they knew enough about me etc that they didn't need more from me to make me an offer. Not necessarily because I'm a markedly better candidate than anyone else, maybe just because they managed to get to know me better than others for whichever reason.
     

    Jacob Miller

    Legendary Member
    Future Trainee
    Forum Team
  • Feb 15, 2020
    897
    2,352
    Hi guys! Thank you for setting up this thread.
    I was wondering roughly how many firms you all applied to? I have sent off 10 applications so far for spring/summer vac schemes. Some of them I've been invited to do WG tests, and one so far I have been invited to do a VI which I am yet to complete. I haven't had any rejections as of yet but a few of them are non-rolling so I won't hear until after the deadline. I am torn between firing off a few more applications before the January deadlines, or whether to have confidence in the ones I have sent and start prepping for the next rounds in the hopes that I get invited. I know that 'quality over quantity' is often the recommended approach, but equally I have also heard that luck can play a part with applications, so sending more off may increase my chances of success.
    Any advice appreciated! :)
    I personally made between 12 and 14 applications (I would need to double check my records to remember exactly!) to a wide variety of firms. I personally wouldn't have tried to do any more than this as I feel the individual quality of each application would begin to suffer- some people will only do 5 or 6, others will do 17-20 or more in any given cycle, so it's a matter of what you think you can do without compromising overall quality. I would personally develop a hierarchical shortlist of the firms that you're the most excited about down to your 'back up' choices and go through that list top to bottom, focussing strongly on the quality of each individual app. This is what I did and I was lucky that the firms I received offers from were some of the highest on my list.
     
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