Ask TCLA's New Community Managers Anything!

James Carrabino

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Good afternoon everyone, I am very excited to introduce myself as one of your new Community Managers, along with @AvniD and @George Maxwell - it is an honour to be in this role! I will also be providing reviews of your applications as part of TCLA's application review service for premium members.

A year ago I had never heard of a Training Contract and was just starting my master’s degree in piano performance at the Royal College of Music. Previously I studied for my undergraduate degree in the United States and so the UK law firm application process was not at all on my radar.

TCLA was absolutely formative to my journey – one year and dozens of applications later I have come to understand a vast amount (and am incredibly enthusiastic to learn a vast amount more) about the London/UK legal market; I have secured a 2023 Training Contract offer and am now fully immersed in my legal journey, studying for the Post-Graduate Diploma in Law.

I certainly don't claim to have too unusual of a background to become a solicitor as I know how diverse all of your interests and experiences are... what is more, I have already come across other future lawyers with the same passion for playing piano that I have! Nevertheless, I hope my experiences can inform candidates on the forum who are wondering how they can 'sell' their non-law and international educational pursuits. I am joining TCLA because it presents me with an opportunity to give back to a community that was instrumental in my application journey. I plan to offer advice and encouragement to everyone who does not fit the penultimate-year law or final-year non-law mould and who feels that they lack adequate work experience to apply for vacation schemes and training contracts… and I am also here to advise those of you who feel like you fit this mould too much and are struggling to stand out from the crowd! Through my additional role as an application reviewer, I have already begun helping candidates to really sell their individual experiences to law firms and I am excited to begin sharing my advice on this with the wider TCLA community.

I will go into more specifics in an upcoming thread about what I learnt after each application I made, but I’ll try to leave you with one particular word of advice for this stage in the year; don’t just apply to firms you know a lot about already – conduct research into a broad array of firms, knowing that you may not have yet encountered ‘the one’. TCLA is here to help you with the research process and to offer insight into which firms may best fit your unique experiences. For me, music/piano is something that I simply love doing and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend the last year of my life doing it - some law firms understood that wholeheartedly and were excited to let me know about opportunities to get involved with pro bono projects supporting musicians, whilst others informed me candidly that I would not be able to play much piano when I start working 15 hours a day. And that’s okay, because there are so many firms to choose from and enough applicants who would be a great fit for each one. You just have to find the right firm for you and the best way to do this is through your research prior to applying!

I won’t use up more space at the moment as it is time to let you meet your other wonderful Community Managers, but look out for future posts on a range of topics that I hope will be of benefit to you all. If there is anything private that you would like to discuss, then please DM me and I will reply swiftly with regard to confidential issues. If I receive messages on here or on LinkedIn that I believe will be of general use to the wider TCLA community, then I may not reply directly but will make sure to answer them in one of my posts!

Feel free to ask us anything and everything throughout the forum threads – we are here to help :)
 

futuretraineesolicitor

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Dec 14, 2019
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Good afternoon everyone, I am very excited to introduce myself as one of your new Community Managers, along with @AvniD and @George Maxwell - it is an honour to be in this role! I will also be providing reviews of your applications as part of TCLA's application review service for premium members.

A year ago I had never heard of a Training Contract and was just starting my master’s degree in piano performance at the Royal College of Music. Previously I studied for my undergraduate degree in the United States and so the UK law firm application process was not at all on my radar.

TCLA was absolutely formative to my journey – one year and dozens of applications later I have come to understand a vast amount (and am incredibly enthusiastic to learn a vast amount more) about the London/UK legal market; I have secured a 2023 Training Contract offer and am now fully immersed in my legal journey, studying for the Post-Graduate Diploma in Law.

I certainly don't claim to have too unusual of a background to become a solicitor as I know how diverse all of your interests and experiences are... what is more, I have already come across other future lawyers with the same passion for playing piano that I have! Nevertheless, I hope my experiences can inform candidates on the forum who are wondering how they can 'sell' their non-law and international educational pursuits. I am joining TCLA because it presents me with an opportunity to give back to a community that was instrumental in my application journey. I plan to offer advice and encouragement to everyone who does not fit the penultimate-year law or final-year non-law mould and who feels that they lack adequate work experience to apply for vacation schemes and training contracts… and I am also here to advise those of you who feel like you fit this mould too much and are struggling to stand out from the crowd! Through my additional role as an application reviewer, I have already begun helping candidates to really sell their individual experiences to law firms and I am excited to begin sharing my advice on this with the wider TCLA community.

I will go into more specifics in an upcoming thread about what I learnt after each application I made, but I’ll try to leave you with one particular word of advice for this stage in the year; don’t just apply to firms you know a lot about already – conduct research into a broad array of firms, knowing that you may not have yet encountered ‘the one’. TCLA is here to help you with the research process and to offer insight into which firms may best fit your unique experiences. For me, music/piano is something that I simply love doing and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend the last year of my life doing it - some law firms understood that wholeheartedly and were excited to let me know about opportunities to get involved with pro bono projects supporting musicians, whilst others informed me candidly that I would not be able to play much piano when I start working 15 hours a day. And that’s okay, because there are so many firms to choose from and enough applicants who would be a great fit for each one. You just have to find the right firm for you and the best way to do this is through your research prior to applying!

I won’t use up more space at the moment as it is time to let you meet your other wonderful Community Managers, but look out for future posts on a range of topics that I hope will be of benefit to you all. If there is anything private that you would like to discuss, then please DM me and I will reply swiftly with regard to confidential issues. If I receive messages on here or on LinkedIn that I believe will be of general use to the wider TCLA community, then I may not reply directly but will make sure to answer them in one of my posts!

Feel free to ask us anything and everything throughout the forum threads – we are here to help :)
Hey @James Carrabino . Firstly, congratulations on your TC. I have two questions for you.

Q1: How did you manage to get a TC so early on in the process. It's amazing how it took you just a year to get the TC. What do you think worked best for you?

Q2: You have a really interesting background but how did you convince the firms that you wanted to be wedded to the legal career for the rest of your life. What did you do to convince the firms and assuring them that they shouldn't be distracted by your musical background?
 

AvniD

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Hello everyone! My name is Avni and I am delighted to join @George Maxwell and @James Carrabino as a Community Manager here at TCLA!

I am originally from India and moved to the UK in 2015 to pursue my undergraduate education in Law with Politics from the University of Manchester. Moving to the UK was an incredibly rewarding, yet unexpectedly challenging decision for me. Adapting to a new system of education, professional environment and culture without the support of my family and friends was undoubtedly one of the most difficult times of my life, which was also shocking because I expected this new chapter to be nothing but exciting and educational.

It took time, patience and effort to fully settle into life in the UK and embark upon a chosen career path. I followed wherever my curiosity led me and tried to gain an understanding of different legal career options during my undergrad- I undertook a mini-pupillage, attended Open Days and networking events at commercial law firms and gained work experiences with boutique firms as well.

In my final year, I was made the Editor of Manchester University Law Society’s magazine, Mandatory, and became immensely interested in a career in journalism. I worked in journalism in the UK and India to transform this interest into a serious career option. I have been fortunate to experience the inner workings of newsrooms, the camaraderie between different departments in a media organisation and understand the sheer effort that goes into producing a simple 2-minute segment within the 24-hour news machinery.

However, midway through my time as a journalist in India, I decided to move back into a career in law as I missed applying my legal analysis skills and working within the structure of law firms in the UK. I decided that undertaking my LPC MSc in Law, Business and Management would be the best way to get back into the legal world and re-familiarise myself with a career in commercial law, and I began my studies at ULaw Manchester in January 2019.

I essentially added attending careers events as a course in my timetable during my time at ULaw because of the sheer number of events I would sign up to in any given week, whether they were online, in Manchester or another city or on campus. I began making focused training contract applications in the cycle beginning in September 2019 and essentially split my applications into two batches, with the first lasting Sep-Dec 2019 and the second Mar-Jun 2020.

My first batch of applications was entirely unsuccessful and I had to return to India as I was not able to secure jobs with firms that would be willing to sponsor my work visa. I took a break from applications while I was in India and undertook work experience in private equity and venture capital with a boutique firm in New Delhi. I started applying for training contracts again in March 2020 once I felt confident that I had worked hard enough to improve my applications.

I documented my journey through my Instagram blog, Lawgically Yours, and relied on the TCLA forum for support and guidance to get through the ups and downs of the training contract application process. I eventually progressed through all the different application stages and received my training contract offer, which I gladly accepted in August 2020.

TCLA played a key role in demystifying applying for training contracts for me as a first-generation, non-UK, female aspiring solicitor, and I feel incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to pay forward the support I received in my new role as Community Manager.

I believe my greatest strength is the diversity of life experiences I have had- whether it is being a career changer, going through periods of rejection, securing a training contract, approaching the UK job market as an international applicant or approaching a career in commercial law as a student from a non-London university. You can please feel free to ask me questions about any of these experiences, and beyond!

If I had to give one single piece of advice for applying for training contracts, I would say that it is crucial for you to completely dedicate yourself to the training contract application process. Prepare for each stage with sincerity and fearlessly put in the work to get to where you want to be.

I genuinely look forward to being a part of TCLA and interacting with all of you! Please feel free to ask away!
 

George Maxwell

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Hello everyone!

Despite being a little late to the party, it is a real pleasure to be posting on here. My name is George and I am a future trainee at Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF). I am genuinely excited to be taking on this role with @AvniD and @James Carrabino (who are both scarily impressive as they will make very clear I am sure!).

I am currently studying the PGDL at BPP Waterloo, having just finished my undergraduate degree at Warwick University where I studied PPE.

People often said that I should think about becoming a lawyer because I liked to argue(!). When I was younger, I was also one of those children always looking to start little businesses. I liked the idea of using language to simplify complex ideas and of persuading others for a living. I also particularly enjoy working in a team and think I will do best being part of a larger organisation. I was therefore attracted to commercial law, specifically the solicitor route.

My first experience of commercial law was in the Netherlands in the Easter of my first year. I wanted to combine travelling with an internship (this is definitely a theme in my training contract journey!). I was lucky enough to speak directly with a client during a lunch with a Partner overlooking Amsterdam. It was all pretty exciting.

I quickly realised that I preferred working with words than numbers. I did my second year in Canada and then did an internship in Mongolia (again very cool), which largely involved researching property trends in emerging markets. This experience confirmed that I enjoyed writing discursive articles more than gathering data (and working with numbers!).

I spent my third year studying at Sciences Po in Lyon (France). By this point, I had decided that commercial law was something I should seriously consider. I applied to three vacation schemes, hearing back from two and being progressed to interview for one (Slaughter and May). I was unsuccessful but I found my interview invigorating. This experience inspired me to focus my efforts on applying to commercial law firms, with a view to obtaining a training contract.

Over the following summer (and lockdown), I reached out to a large number of trainees and associates at different firms, trying to find out about their experiences, how they ended up at their firm and why they become a lawyer (as well as other things!). I was also interested in finding out what "type" of firm would suit me best, using this time to reflect on what I really wanted to get out of my career. I am still beyond grateful to those that helped me. Becoming a Community Manager is part of the process of me “paying back” the kindness that people showed me when I was applying. That cycle I interviewed at a variety of firms, being rejected post-interview from three or four. However, I was lucky enough to be offered five vacation scheme places*, three of which I accepted (largely due to clashes with other things). I cannot emphasise enough, I did not expect to progress with this many firms, nor was I someone who was “always going to”. The process is, to some extent, down to luck.

I completed my vacation schemes, obtaining an offer from each.

I chose HSF for a number of reasons, including the range of seats available, a larger trainee cohort and the emphasis on structured training (as well as its reputation for litigation/contentious work). It was not an easy decision. I really did enjoy my vacation schemes and admired the firms for different reasons. That being said, I am delighted and feel proud to be training at HSF.

I feel that my success was rooted in my dedication to the process and always being enthusiastic. I also made a point of being myself throughout. Interviewers, supervisors, application reviewers (even other vacation schemers) are people too. Being a robot (or trying to hide your true self), however good your impression, just is not a good idea. Be yourself! In the short term it is important because people can always tell if someone is not being themselves which can be really off-putting. In the long-term, it is in your interest too. You will have to be yourself at some point and you want to make sure that the real “you” fits in wherever you end up.

This list is non-exhaustive, however I feel like I am best-suited to answering questions about:

-Resilience and keeping motivated

-Interviews/Assessment Centres

-US vs. UK law firms (specifically vacation schemes)

-Making strong applications

-Balancing university and making applications

-Networking

I really look forward to answering questions and providing guidance on the forum wherever I can add value. Please do also reach out to me directly if you would like to discuss something confidential. Unfortunately, I will not be able to answer direct messages unless they fall into this category. Due to capacity limitations (as well as being in the interests of other members), wherever possible we would appreciate it if you could post your questions on the public threads (just tag us as we are happy to help).

*these firms were: Willkie Farr & Gallagher, Norton Rose Fulbright, White & Case, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and HSF.
 

Kareena

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Dec 19, 2020
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Hi everyone!

I am currently a third-year law student and am struggling to manage assignments with applications (especially applications that have a rolling deadline). I am also working part-time so I feel like I'm always occupied. I've tried to make a schedule to work along but the burnout is real. Any tips?
 

AvniD

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Hi everyone!

I am currently a third-year law student and am struggling to manage assignments with applications (especially applications that have a rolling deadline). I am also working part-time so I feel like I'm always occupied. I've tried to make a schedule to work along but the burnout is real. Any tips?
Hi @Kareena ! I am sorry to hear that you've been struggling.

I am sharing some things that work for me when I'm struggling in busy periods-
  • Scheduling in advance, but leaving room for changes- I have daily, weekly and monthly priorities that I pencil into my planner. It helps me stay on track and anticipate how I will need to mould my schedule to get things done. But sometimes I'm not able to do things for when I've planned them and have to shift them to a later date- I try not to get disappointed when I have to move stuff around and remind myself that I will get to them later when/if I have the capacity.
  • Prioritising- there are some days that I just cannot do everything I want. I have to accept this and prioritise what matters the most at any given moment and try to complete that task with my best effort.
  • Setting boundaries- saying 'no' to things that I do not have the capacity to attend to/ complete is something I am still learning 😅 But it's the only way to prioritise and schedule effectively and in a manner that actually allows you to complete the tasks you're setting for yourself satisfactorily.
  • Showing kindness- when I was making applications, there were days that I missed deadlines and I wish I was kinder to myself when that happened. It's important to take time out for yourself and talk to your support system if this happens to remind yourself that there is only so much you can achieve on any given day and that there will be other deadlines and firms you can apply to later.
  • Taking breaks- I cannot emphasise this enough. If you're feeling burnt out, please do take a break to recuperate and energise yourself. Knowing when you need a take a break and need time to yourself is a big part of setting boundaries and is also necessary to enable yourself to balance a schedule that is as busy as yours.
I really hope this helps. You've got this!

All the best,

Avni
 

James Carrabino

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Hey @James Carrabino . Firstly, congratulations on your TC. I have two questions for you.

Q1: How did you manage to get a TC so early on in the process. It's amazing how it took you just a year to get the TC. What do you think worked best for you?

Q2: You have a really interesting background but how did you convince the firms that you wanted to be wedded to the legal career for the rest of your life. What did you do to convince the firms and assuring them that they shouldn't be distracted by your musical background?
Thank you @futuretraineesolicitor (and apologies for the delay in my reply); I am sure I will be congratulating you on your TC very soon!

To answer your first question, I may have inadvertently made it sound much easier than it was. First of all, I applied to a large number of firms across varying stages of the VS and TC cycle and so it certainly does not feel like it took me just a year! I plan to give a long (and boring but hopefully insightful and encouraging) breakdown of my apps when everyone is struggling to motivate themselves in the thick of applications, outlining the specific details of my cycle (including firms I interviewed with, feedback I received etc) and the toll it naturally took on me and many fellow applicants that I was in communication with. So, to answer what worked best for me in terms of progressing apps...the answer is to do as many as you can and to constantly re-assess your answers to your application questions and consider how you can write them better until you start getting progressed with firms. This statistically gives you the best shot at a positive outcome at the end of the cycle. In terms of getting ready for interviews, ACs and vac schemes, ultimately preparing well is the only way to feel confident and relaxed going in. I found TCLA to be the most incredible resource (which is why I was so excited to get involved) and I particularly loved using the Monday article series by past Community Manager @Jacob Miller.

Regarding your second question, it took a lot of trial and improvement with the applications I wrote! I think in some earlier (unsuccessful) apps I naively assumed firms would simply be interested in the fact that I had varied experiences. Whilst I still think that firms do value such things, I found quickly that I could not just leave it at that...at the same time, I didn't want to make excuses for my musical background either. So I would say that it was not about trying to avoid firms being 'distracted' by the music, but rather conveying how the skills and personal qualities I developed through music would suit my work as a solicitor. I had a genuine story about why I wanted to be a lawyer that was unrelated to music (from a personal experience with the law during secondary school to another area of my academic studies that piqued my interest) and then I fleshed it out with some of the attributes I had acquired through music. These included time management, perseverance and self-motivation (practising piano 4+ hours a day alongside an academic course load), resilience (the music world is ruthlessly competitive), attention to detail (musical scores are incredibly exacting), teamwork (when collaborating with other musicians), creativity (music is about artistry after all) and finally, the ability to deal with really tedious work at times. I think that it is possible to sell every experience if it is something you have put a large amount of time, effort and passion into. As I mentioned in my initial post, however, some firms were definitely distracted by the music. I learnt as I wrote my applications how to convey my interest in law and explain that music was an excellent outlet for me from my other work and eventually I think that this began to resonate with graduate recruitment teams and lawyers who discussed with me in interviews their own experiences with music, however small.

The main takeaway here is that not all firms are going to value your experiences equally, but with the right approach you will undoubtedly find the ones that do!
 

TCinpipeline

Star Member
Oct 31, 2021
30
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Thank you @futuretraineesolicitor (and apologies for the delay in my reply); I am sure I will be congratulating you on your TC very soon!

To answer your first question, I may have inadvertently made it sound much easier than it was. First of all, I applied to a large number of firms across varying stages of the VS and TC cycle and so it certainly does not feel like it took me just a year! I plan to give a long (and boring but hopefully insightful and encouraging) breakdown of my apps when everyone is struggling to motivate themselves in the thick of applications, outlining the specific details of my cycle (including firms I interviewed with, feedback I received etc) and the toll it naturally took on me and many fellow applicants that I was in communication with. So, to answer what worked best for me in terms of progressing apps...the answer is to do as many as you can and to constantly re-assess your answers to your application questions and consider how you can write them better until you start getting progressed with firms. This statistically gives you the best shot at a positive outcome at the end of the cycle. In terms of getting ready for interviews, ACs and vac schemes, ultimately preparing well is the only way to feel confident and relaxed going in. I found TCLA to be the most incredible resource (which is why I was so excited to get involved) and I particularly loved using the Monday article series by past Community Manager @Jacob Miller.

Regarding your second question, it took a lot of trial and improvement with the applications I wrote! I think in some earlier (unsuccessful) apps I naively assumed firms would simply be interested in the fact that I had varied experiences. Whilst I still think that firms do value such things, I found quickly that I could not just leave it at that...at the same time, I didn't want to make excuses for my musical background either. So I would say that it was not about trying to avoid firms being 'distracted' by the music, but rather conveying how the skills and personal qualities I developed through music would suit my work as a solicitor. I had a genuine story about why I wanted to be a lawyer that was unrelated to music (from a personal experience with the law during secondary school to another area of my academic studies that piqued my interest) and then I fleshed it out with some of the attributes I had acquired through music. These included time management, perseverance and self-motivation (practising piano 4+ hours a day alongside an academic course load), resilience (the music world is ruthlessly competitive), attention to detail (musical scores are incredibly exacting), teamwork (when collaborating with other musicians), creativity (music is about artistry after all) and finally, the ability to deal with really tedious work at times. I think that it is possible to sell every experience if it is something you have put a large amount of time, effort and passion into. As I mentioned in my initial post, however, some firms were definitely distracted by the music. I learnt as I wrote my applications how to convey my interest in law and explain that music was an excellent outlet for me from my other work and eventually I think that this began to resonate with graduate recruitment teams and lawyers who discussed with me in interviews their own experiences with music, however small.

The main takeaway here is that not all firms are going to value your experiences equally, but with the right approach you will undoubtedly find the ones that do!
Thank you for your wisdom on applications. When should we look out for the long insightful journey on your apps?
I am in the middle of application forms at the moment and I wonder how you went about looking at how you can improve them. Did you ask successful trainee contract applicants?
 

George Maxwell

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Thank you for your wisdom on applications. When should we look out for the long insightful journey on your apps?
I am in the middle of application forms at the moment and I wonder how you went about looking at how you can improve them. Did you ask successful trainee contract applicants?
Hi @TCinpipeline,

I think this is a really good question and something that people should do more!

I can't speak for @James Carrabino but when I was applying, I reached out to lots of people in the firms that I was applying to. I found it a really helpful way to learn about the 'type' of firm it was. This included future trainees too. I found it really helpful to hear other people's reasons for applying too as sometimes they would resonate with me (sometimes not!), but it helped to reinforce my reasoning. People are generally extremely happy to help as long as you are polite, show a genuine interest and make it clear that you are grateful for them putting aside time for them!
 
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James Carrabino

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Thank you for your wisdom on applications. When should we look out for the long insightful journey on your apps?
I am in the middle of application forms at the moment and I wonder how you went about looking at how you can improve them. Did you ask successful trainee contract applicants?
You're welcome! I was thinking that it could be most effective for vac scheme applicants in early December as that was when I had myself received my first several rejections and was coming to terms with the fact that the rest of December and January would be quite miserable with loads of apps. It may not be what you're looking for right now anyway; I was thinking it could be insightful in terms of reminding people how difficult the process is for everyone else too...I needed a lot of motivation then and many encouraging posts on TCLA certainly helped me out! So whilst you can look forward to that in the vac scheme thread then, I always want to be as helpful as possible so I'll answer your question now (and feel free to follow up if you'd like more insight) :)

First of all, I did reach out to a couple future trainees, I followed a range of conversations on TCLA regarding application forms and I attended a few open days where firms discussed application technique (some firms also have a page on their website dedicated to this). That was all certainly useful and helped me to begin crafting my motivational and commercial answers, but the key was to continue re-assessing each answer for each new application. The way different firms phrased their questions made me realise that answers I had written for other firms did not fit there. Sometimes you have an incredibly polished 300-word application answer for why commercial law and then the next application gives you only 250 words. Don't think of this as a burden to nitpick words to remove...treat it as an opportunity to consider whether everything in your answer was really as important or relevant as you thought it was! It is always good to come back to your answers with a fresh mind and whilst you don't need to do this in perpetuity (eventually I'm sure your answers will be extremely well polished), I would definitely recommend doing this at the beginning.

Following on from @George Maxwell's point, do as much research as you can for each firm before you start writing. Make notes on a whole host of things you would like to mention and reach out to people to discuss the firm's key characteristics if you like. When it comes time to writing your 250 words or so, know that you simply won't have space to include half the ideas you came up with and don't try to squish them all together in awkward sentences that don't make sense. Instead, allow your newfound knowledge of the firm to permeate your answer as you write so that you can pick and choose from the details you jotted down. None of this research will go to waste as it can all be expanded upon in an interview!

Overall, make sure every claim you make relates to every example you give, not just in your head but on paper. For example, instead of writing: 'I worked in a bank doing deals and so I want to be a transactional lawyer', write: 'I enjoyed the intellectual challenge of completing multi-faceted deals when working at a bank and so I know that I will value a similarly complex transactional environment at a commercial law firm'. Then you can explain why you prefer the legal aspect of commercial law to banking and, to really clarify the point, you can add in examples of a deal you worked on where you excelled or times you developed or demonstrated a certain skill in your job that will prove especially useful to a commercial lawyer.

This is all of course just an example, but the same approach can be taken to back up every claim that you make. If you want us to read over your answers for grammar, clarity of writing or advice on whether you are conveying your motivations in a compelling way, then you can use TCLA's application review service, which you can get through TCLA premium (in addition to a library of past successful application answers) or separately.

I hope all of this helps - do let me know if you have further questions!
 

James Carrabino

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@TCinpipeline I would also add that as time went on, I realised the experiences and achievements which I really wanted to showcase were simply not always the ones that would best answer the question. When you are wedded to mentioning something about yourself, it is hard to convince yourself not to - but it makes for a much stronger application answer if you rigorously focus on answering the question being asked!
 

DTB

Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2019
22
14
Hello everyone!

Despite being a little late to the party, it is a real pleasure to be posting on here. My name is George and I am a future trainee at Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF). I am genuinely excited to be taking on this role with @AvniD and @James Carrabino (who are both scarily impressive as they will make very clear I am sure!).

I am currently studying the PGDL at BPP Waterloo, having just finished my undergraduate degree at Warwick University where I studied PPE.

People often said that I should think about becoming a lawyer because I liked to argue(!). When I was younger, I was also one of those children always looking to start little businesses. I liked the idea of using language to simplify complex ideas and of persuading others for a living. I also particularly enjoy working in a team and think I will do best being part of a larger organisation. I was therefore attracted to commercial law, specifically the solicitor route.

My first experience of commercial law was in the Netherlands in the Easter of my first year. I wanted to combine travelling with an internship (this is definitely a theme in my training contract journey!). I was lucky enough to speak directly with a client during a lunch with a Partner overlooking Amsterdam. It was all pretty exciting.

I quickly realised that I preferred working with words than numbers. I did my second year in Canada and then did an internship in Mongolia (again very cool), which largely involved researching property trends in emerging markets. This experience confirmed that I enjoyed writing discursive articles more than gathering data (and working with numbers!).

I spent my third year studying at Sciences Po in Lyon (France). By this point, I had decided that commercial law was something I should seriously consider. I applied to three vacation schemes, hearing back from two and being progressed to interview for one (Slaughter and May). I was unsuccessful but I found my interview invigorating. This experience inspired me to focus my efforts on applying to commercial law firms, with a view to obtaining a training contract.

Over the following summer (and lockdown), I reached out to a large number of trainees and associates at different firms, trying to find out about their experiences, how they ended up at their firm and why they become a lawyer (as well as other things!). I was also interested in finding out what "type" of firm would suit me best, using this time to reflect on what I really wanted to get out of my career. I am still beyond grateful to those that helped me. Becoming a Community Manager is part of the process of me “paying back” the kindness that people showed me when I was applying. That cycle I interviewed at a variety of firms, being rejected post-interview from three or four. However, I was lucky enough to be offered five vacation scheme places*, three of which I accepted (largely due to clashes with other things). I cannot emphasise enough, I did not expect to progress with this many firms, nor was I someone who was “always going to”. The process is, to some extent, down to luck.

I completed my vacation schemes, obtaining an offer from each.

I chose HSF for a number of reasons, including the range of seats available, a larger trainee cohort and the emphasis on structured training (as well as its reputation for litigation/contentious work). It was not an easy decision. I really did enjoy my vacation schemes and admired the firms for different reasons. That being said, I am delighted and feel proud to be training at HSF.

I feel that my success was rooted in my dedication to the process and always being enthusiastic. I also made a point of being myself throughout. Interviewers, supervisors, application reviewers (even other vacation schemers) are people too. Being a robot (or trying to hide your true self), however good your impression, just is not a good idea. Be yourself! In the short term it is important because people can always tell if someone is not being themselves which can be really off-putting. In the long-term, it is in your interest too. You will have to be yourself at some point and you want to make sure that the real “you” fits in wherever you end up.

This list is non-exhaustive, however I feel like I am best-suited to answering questions about:

-Resilience and keeping motivated

-Interviews/Assessment Centres

-US vs. UK law firms (specifically vacation schemes)

-Making strong applications

-Balancing university and making applications

-Networking

I really look forward to answering questions and providing guidance on the forum wherever I can add value. Please do also reach out to me directly if you would like to discuss something confidential. Unfortunately, I will not be able to answer direct messages unless they fall into this category. Due to capacity limitations (as well as being in the interests of other members), wherever possible we would appreciate it if you could post your questions on the public threads (just tag us as we are happy to help).

*these firms were: Willkie Farr & Gallagher, Norton Rose Fulbright, White & Case, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and HSF.
Hi @George Maxwell! Thank you so much for this - you have had such an exciting journey! I have an AC coming up at HSF. I would be grateful if you can expand on your AC experience - how you prepared for the scenario based and case study interviews since I have heard these are quite technical and not the usual MnA! Also if there was any particular structure that helped you in answering the questions!? Thank you so much :)
 
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George Maxwell

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Hi @George Maxwell! Thank you so much for this - you have had such an exciting journey! I have an AC coming up at HSF. I would be grateful if you can expand on your AC experience - how you prepared for the scenario based and case study interviews since I have heard these are quite technical and not the usual MnA! Also if there was any particular structure that helped you in answering the questions!? Thank you so much :)
Hi @YB,

So first of all, I want to congratulate you for getting to the AC stage. I remember getting an email from HSF confirming my invitation to their AC and I remember how excited I was. It is no small achievement. It goes without saying, but please do let me know if you would like any further guidance in the lead up to your interview (or beyond!).

Secondly, thank you for your question. I had a really enjoyable interview with HSF. My interviewers were people that I genuinely liked and respected.

I had three interviews:

-For the competency interview, in preparation I drilled down into why I wanted to be a commercial lawyer, why I had applied to HSF and why I thought that I would suit the firm (and why I would be a capable trainee!). I also made sure that I knew my application back-to-front.

-For the scenario and case study interviews, I made sure that I was comfortable using and discussing commercial terms. I also did a few mock interviews with friends and family. I made sure that I was asked, amongst other things, consultancy-style questions (such as market sizing questions if you are familiar with these?). The MBB firms (Mckinsey, BCG and Bain) each have useful resources on their websites which I would really advise taking a look at. Just as an example, BCG's is here. The subject matter will be different from your interview, but these will give you an idea of what to expect.

As a piece of general advice, show enthusiasm and interest. Your interviewers will want to know how you think. Focus on relaying your thoughts in a clear, logical manner that is easy to follow and understand.

Very happy to answer any follow ups you might have!
 

futuretraineesolicitor

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Hello, guys. Hope you all are doing well. Could you please help me out with a WG question here. My answer would be "ID"/ "FALSE" since "cross cultural business training workshops" doesn't cross-over with the legal rules and regulations for doing business even if we apply our common knowlege which is allowed for this section.

Secondly, the managers here said that "these skills could be applied immediately" but do managers of companies really apply legal rules and regulations immediately? I have no idea how this makes sense. Could you please help @George Maxwell @AvniD @Dheepa
 

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George Maxwell

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Hello, guys. Hope you all are doing well. Could you please help me out with a WG question here. My answer would be "ID"/ "FALSE" since "cross cultural business training workshops" doesn't cross-over with the legal rules and regulations for doing business even if we apply our common knowlege which is allowed for this section.

Secondly, the managers here said that "these skills could be applied immediately" but do managers of companies really apply legal rules and regulations immediately? I have no idea how this makes sense. Could you please help @George Maxwell @AvniD @Dheepa
Hi @futuretraineesolicitor,

Great question. This is my thinking, as it has been a little while since I did the WG, so I might well be wrong.

I interpreted this question as on focusing on the likelihood of the type of content that a "cross cultural business training workshop" would have. We cannot be 100% sure about this using common knowledge, but we have strong indications of what the content is likely to be, so the answer is Probably False.

Breaking this down:

We cannot be certain that the statement is false. We cannot be absolutely sure what the content of the workshop was as there is no explicit statement to that effect. Instead we have a very strong indication, provided by the name of the workshop, the background of those that attended and their feedback, that the content of workshop would not have focused on a single ("this") country.

Using common knowledge it seems unlikely that a "cross cultural" workshop would be focused entirely on doing business in a single country. The workshop is being provided to managers "scheduled for international assignments". Thus it can reasonably be inferred that it is likely that the content of the workshop relates to this fact, especially given that these managers "voluntarily attended". "Cross cultural" work in this context might even reasonably be understood as meaning something similar to "international" work (as this is, I think, its ordinary usage). "Cross cultural" implies that the training is intended to help employees understand working between different cultures (and using common knowledge, we can infer that cultural differences (when doing business) exist most prominently between different countries).

In addition to the above, we know that this workshop was provided to managers "scheduled for international assignments" and that "all of the managers reported that the quality of training was high and focused on valuable work that could be immediately applied". Given that the attendees were scheduled for international assignments, their feedback concerning the immediate utility of the content of the workshop might infer that they are referring to its usage when undertaking international work.
 

futuretraineesolicitor

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Hi @futuretraineesolicitor,

Great question. This is my thinking, as it has been a little while since I did the WG, so I might well be wrong.

I interpreted this question as on focusing on the likelihood of the type of content that a "cross cultural business training workshop" would have. We cannot be 100% sure about this using common knowledge, but we have strong indications of what the content is likely to be, so the answer is Probably False.

Breaking this down:

We cannot be certain that the statement is false. We cannot be absolutely sure what the content of the workshop was as there is no explicit statement to that effect. Instead we have a very strong indication, provided by the name of the workshop, the background of those that attended and their feedback, that the content of workshop would not have focused on a single ("this") country.

Using common knowledge it seems unlikely that a "cross cultural" workshop would be focused entirely on doing business in a single country. The workshop is being provided to managers "scheduled for international assignments". Thus it can reasonably be inferred that it is likely that the content of the workshop relates to this fact, especially given that these managers "voluntarily attended". "Cross cultural" work in this context might even reasonably be understood as meaning something similar to "international" work (as this is, I think, its ordinary usage). "Cross cultural" implies that the training is intended to help employees understand working between different cultures (and using common knowledge, we can infer that cultural differences (when doing business) exist most prominently between different countries).

In addition to the above, we know that this workshop was provided to managers "scheduled for international assignments" and that "all of the managers reported that the quality of training was high and focused on valuable work that could be immediately applied". Given that the attendees were scheduled for international assignments, their feedback concerning the immediate utility of the content of the workshop might infer that they are referring to its usage when undertaking international work.
Thanks for this explanation, @George Maxwell. However, I'm still not able to establish a link between managers being trained for international work and ultimately doing compliance-related stuff that is meant for lawyers.
 

George Maxwell

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Thanks for this explanation, @George Maxwell. However, I'm still not able to establish a link between managers being trained for international work and ultimately doing compliance-related stuff that is meant for lawyers.
Hi @futuretraineesolicitor,

My understanding is that managers do have to be, or should be, (at least) familiar, as does any employee taking decisions in a business context, with what rules and regulations might apply when taking an action on behalf of a company (especially if this is somewhere with a different (business) culture). Even though they are not specialists, having a rough idea is surely going to be useful. So you are right in that lawyers, who are the specialists, will do the heavy lifting regarding legalistic compliance regarding rules and regulations. However, in this case, the information given does not suggest that the workshop's content is extremely legalistic. It is ambiguous. On the information given, we could conclude that the workshop aims merely to introduce the managers to the rules and procedures of a given jurisdiction, perhaps at a very high level. This is something that is relevant to a manager in a business context doing international work and could be very relevant/useful.

It sounds like what you are struggling with is how we are justified, using common knowledge, in assuming that a "cross cultural workshop" given to managers would cover "rules and regulations" at all.

My reasoning is:

I assume that "rules and regulations" are one of the most important elements of doing international/cross cultural work. If you are taking decisions as a manager on behalf of a business, this would be useful knowledge to have. It seems to me that it is a reasonable assumption to make that one might incorporate an important element of doing international/cross cultural work into a cross cultural workshop, even if it is only at a high level. We do not know for certain that this is true. However, it is certainly conceivable that this could be covered in such a workshop as it would be useful for managers doing cross cultural work to be familiar with applicable rules and regulations.

You are right though, it is also conceivable that such a workshop may not cover "rules and regulations". For example, it might just be on soft skills. But it seems to be a fair assumption to make that such a workshop might cover this topic, and this possibility is why the answer is Probably False.

Does that make things any clearer? Do say if not! I hope that helps though :).
 

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