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Ask Willkie Farr & Gallagher Anything!

WillkieGemma

Valued Member
Graduate Recruitment
Nov 4, 2021
106
285
Hi Gemma, I have seen that an awful lot of the Willkie's current or future trainees have previously worked as paralegals. Would you say that this is a result of Willkie only recently starting to take on trainees, or the firm looks particularly favourably at the skills gained and commitment to law shown working as a paralegal? Thanks!
Hi @MayaM0921 around 50% of our current and future trainees were working/had worked as paralegals when they applied. This is largely due to the fact that in 2021, our first year of recruitment, we were recruiting for trainees to start in 2021 and 2022 and so the applicants tended to be a little further on academically. We would not favour those who have paralegalled over other applicants; it was simply how well each person did in the application process. We are not looking for a commitment to law in terms of legal work experience - as legal work experience is extraordinarily difficult to gain and it would be hugely unfair to demand or expect this. Of course, many of our trainees have had a year's gap after they applied and were offered; they have chosen to paralegal during that time.
 
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MayaM0921

Active Member
Premium Member
Jan 17, 2023
14
11
Hi @MayaM0921 around 50% of our current and future trainees were working/had worked as paralegals when they applied. This is largely due to the fact that in 2021, our first year of recruitment, we were recruiting for trainees to start in 2021 and 2022 and so the applicants tended to be a little further on academically. We would not favour those who have paralegalled over other applicants; it was simply how well each person did in the application process. We are not looking for a commitment to law in terms of legal work experience - as legal work experience is extraordinarily difficult to gain and it would be hugely unfair to demand or expect this. Of course, many of our trainees have had a year's gap after they applied and were offered; they have chosen to paralegal during that time.
Thank you so much Gemma!
 
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1barkeb

New Member
Jan 10, 2023
2
1
Hi Gemma, I hope you're well! I'm currently writing an application to Willkie's vacation scheme, and have an upcoming scheme with another firm that finishes before Willkie's application deadline. I have no other legal work experience, and was wondering whether you'd recommend sending the application in now, or waiting until having completed the other scheme? I understand you don't fill up places until after the deadline, so perhaps it would be best to wait? If so, would it be okay to write about that scheme in the 'why commercial law' question, or do firms not look too kindly upon mentions of other firms? (That might be a silly question, and if so I'm sorry!) Thanks for any advice!
 

WillkieGemma

Valued Member
Graduate Recruitment
Nov 4, 2021
106
285
Hi @1barkeb it's not a silly question! We don't look for legal w/e, so you don't need to wait. You can nclude the upcoming work experience, and under the description simply write "Work placement will start on x December 2023 for x weeks/days" - you don't need to complete the section if you haven't had the experience yet.

Yes, you can mention the other firm in the why law section, however, it does still need to be relevant to Willkie. We expect candidates to have attended open days etc at other firms, so it's completely fine.

I would say just submit the app when you are 100% happy with it - you are not at any disadvantage submitting it close to, or on, deadline day.
 

1barkeb

New Member
Jan 10, 2023
2
1
Hi @1barkeb it's not a silly question! We don't look for legal w/e, so you don't need to wait. You can nclude the upcoming work experience, and under the description simply write "Work placement will start on x December 2023 for x weeks/days" - you don't need to complete the section if you haven't had the experience yet.

Yes, you can mention the other firm in the why law section, however, it does still need to be relevant to Willkie. We expect candidates to have attended open days etc at other firms, so it's completely fine.

I would say just submit the app when you are 100% happy with it - you are not at any disadvantage submitting it close to, or on, deadline day.
Amazing - thank you so much!
 
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WillkieGemma

Valued Member
Graduate Recruitment
Nov 4, 2021
106
285
Hi Gemma! thanks for all your help so far. For the section on achievements and prizes - do these need to be law related or can we explain how there are transferrable skills?

Best wishes!
Hi @lawyerletsgo no, they can be from any aspect of your life, whether sports, drama, music, university societies, positions of responsibility, pro bono, community based work etc etc. You don't have to have transferrable skills in this section, simply state what you did and the results.
 
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erderlylars

Star Member
Nov 12, 2023
43
17
Hi Gemma,

Hope all is well! I was just wondering how the video interviews were assessed? Is it assessed as a whole, or each individual question gets marked? I feel like I did not do as well in the first question as it's the first video interview I've ever done, but got a lot more comfortable and confident from the 2nd to the 4th question. Would one slightly not so great response I guess completely ruin one's chance of progressing onto the next stage?
 

WillkieGemma

Valued Member
Graduate Recruitment
Nov 4, 2021
106
285
Hi Gemma,

Hope all is well! I was just wondering how the video interviews were assessed? Is it assessed as a whole, or each individual question gets marked? I feel like I did not do as well in the first question as it's the first video interview I've ever done, but got a lot more comfortable and confident from the 2nd to the 4th question. Would one slightly not so great response I guess completely ruin one's chance of progressing onto the next stage?

Hi @erderlylars - no, not at all. I review every answer and consider the interview as a whole. I do understand that candidates get very nervous etc and take that into consideration.
 

MaryAn

New Member
Dec 7, 2023
2
1
Hi Gemma,

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer questions.

I was wondering if the Vacation Scheme would be the best avenue for me into a career at Willkie. I am a qualified Barrister - I've been called to the Bar of England & Wales and given a full exemption of pupillage. However, upon qualification I had to make the very difficult decision to take a break from my career to care for a loved one. I have been away from law for a number of years although I have done some legally related voluntary work during that time. I have 6 years legal work experience, but not in commercial law, and I suppose I could be termed a career changer. Am I the type of candidate that Willkie would consider for a position as a first year Associate? If so, should I be applying to Willkie as an experienced lawyer even though all my legal experience was gained a number of years ago before qualification? Or, should I in the circumstances apply for the Vacation Scheme?
 

WillkieGemma

Valued Member
Graduate Recruitment
Nov 4, 2021
106
285
Hi Gemma,

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer questions.

I was wondering if the Vacation Scheme would be the best avenue for me into a career at Willkie. I am a qualified Barrister - I've been called to the Bar of England & Wales and given a full exemption of pupillage. However, upon qualification I had to make the very difficult decision to take a break from my career to care for a loved one. I have been away from law for a number of years although I have done some legally related voluntary work during that time. I have 6 years legal work experience, but not in commercial law, and I suppose I could be termed a career changer. Am I the type of candidate that Willkie would consider for a position as a first year Associate? If so, should I be applying to Willkie as an experienced lawyer even though all my legal experience was gained a number of years ago before qualification? Or, should I in the circumstances apply for the Vacation Scheme?

Hi @MaryAn gosh, that is a complex question and answer. I think it's probably best to have a chat over the phone -please would you email me at [email protected] with your availability for a phone call for next week.

thanks!
Gemma
 
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Mrcerec

Standard Member
Dec 8, 2023
9
2
Hi Gemma

My son is turning 27, has a masters in Politics from LSE, works in a top firm in comms for the last 3 years.

Wants to swap to corporate Law. In the last year has got to the final round of Freshfields and Weil. Got vacation schemes with Vinson & Elkins and Eversheds. Unfortunately not offered a TC with any.

What should he do next? Keep applying- he's finding it all a real slog? Do the SQE independently?

Any advice gratefully received.

TIA
 

gggg

Star Member
  • Feb 1, 2023
    26
    22
    Hi Gemma,

    For the VI, it says that there will be commercial awareness and understanding of law firms. Could you advise on any tips that would be useful in approaching these types of questions?

    Thankyou!!
     

    lawyerletsgo

    Star Member
    Nov 26, 2023
    29
    23
    Hi Gemma! Thanks for the help so far again - it truly does help calm our nerves in this process.

    For the commercial based questions - 'tell us about a current commercial issue...' is it asking for a specific case or a general topic which is an issue right now?

    Best wishes!
     

    Samridhi Jain

    Distinguished Member
    Gold Member
    Premium Member
    Feb 18, 2022
    50
    25
    Hi @WillkieGemma , this has been an insightful thread. I'm an international student in the penultimate year of my law degree and I graduate in 2025 and am available to start in 2026.

    Q. I am aware that Willkie allows international students as mentioned on the website but wanted to double-check if you sponsor visas for the Vacation Schemes in 2024 as well. Would Indian vac schemers get visa sponsorships or a letter that would help us to then apply for a work visa for the UK? As an international student, unless my VS is sponsored, I would not be able to apply and after reading the thread, I see that the firm does not have a direct TC intake. I've had legal, non-legal and legal tech experience. Is there a way to be considered for the TC by applying to the VS in case my application is a fit and if you don't sponsor visas for the VS?

    Q. Would the firm be covering the costs of accommodation, travel, and other necessary expenses for the vac scheme period for International students? Or do we have to bear it in our capacity?

    Q. The deadline is only 10 days away so I wanted to check if I am at a disadvantage if applying this late into the process and if my app would be viewed differently.
     

    WillkieGemma

    Valued Member
    Graduate Recruitment
    Nov 4, 2021
    106
    285
    Hi Gemma

    My son is turning 27, has a masters in Politics from LSE, works in a top firm in comms for the last 3 years.

    Wants to swap to corporate Law. In the last year has got to the final round of Freshfields and Weil. Got vacation schemes with Vinson & Elkins and Eversheds. Unfortunately not offered a TC with any.

    What should he do next? Keep applying- he's finding it all a real slog? Do the SQE independently?

    Any advice gratefully received.

    TIA
    Hi @Mrcerec

    I think he should still apply, he's only 26 and has only made one round of applications, which is quite normal. My advice would not be to do the sqe independently.

    Thanks
    Gemma
     

    Jessica Booker

    Legendary Member
    TCLA Moderator
    Gold Member
    Graduate Recruitment
    Premium Member
    Forum Team
    Aug 1, 2019
    13,169
    18,919
    Thanks Gemma. As he has business experience is he better applying for VS or direct for a TC? At what age do you consider people too old for a TC?
    Not Gemma, but if he is working in another law firm, he will need to check whether he can work for another firm (his employment contract is likely to restrict this).

    It is not impossible to do a vacation scheme with another firm if you are employed by another, but there can be challenges with contractual permissions, getting the time off work, and then finally conflicts checks.

    There won’t be any age limitations for any TC for any firm too. Going by the average age of a trainee is 28 (by Law Society stats), your son is clearly a very average age to start a TC. But even if he was older, I’ve seen trainees, in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
     

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