Do a good deed today by helping a scared non-law baby with legal concepts (and general AC prep)?

hungry_for_TC

Star Member
Gold Member
Dec 2, 2021
36
100
Hi all!

I've got an assessment centre for Ropes & Gray coming up on March 8th. I've been moving from Scotland to England which has been very hectic and which also means I'm starting my prep right today as I was busy moving and packing before. Thus, I basically have 2 weeks to get up to speed with everything. I've already researched the firm for my application so I don't need help with this - what I need help with are resources that can help prepare me as best as possible in the 2 weeks that I have. I think some threads here could be helpful but I wanted to open up the floor for others to chime in. I've been watching some videos on how M&A works and things, writing notes about what PE vs. VC investing entail, etc, but it feels all pretty nebulous at the moment.

One thing I'm scared about is that I don't have a 'niche' area of law that I know everything about - I'm interested in environmental law and ESG in companies, and I know a bit about this but nothing that will 'WOW' the partners that will interview me. I feel like my knowledge of anything isn't deep enough to WOW a partner, unless they ask me about my politics courses on decolonialism lol. I do know however I can brush up on interesting stories and make it seem like I have profound knowledge (I did debate and theatre so its a pretty handy combo) but am just scared of being grilled to the point of coming up with a brain fart at the end of the questioning line.

I read the FT, Guardian and Economist pretty regularly but I feel like my ADHD doesn't let me take in a lot of details (so I would say I'm commercially aware but will have to do recaps on how current trends will affect R&G clientele etc). Should I maximise my prep and just focus on one source for news?

Also, do you folk know of anybody that has done a R&G AC in the first place? If so please send them my way!

LOTS OF QUESTIONS and comments here: you can tell I'm terrified. I guess the main help I need right now are ways to maximise my 2 weeks and what things to focus on when trying to learn business jargon/concepts/corporate law pillars I don't know of as a non-law student. Is it worth doing a forage course? Ropes and Gray doesn't have one but I can do a competitor's one I guess? I'm just afraid of doing it and having wasted my time because they're mostly roleplay rather than educational content.
 

thirdtimelucky

Legendary Member
Junior Lawyer
  • Nov 12, 2019
    449
    1,369
    Hi! Firstly congratulations on getting to an AC, it shows a lot of potential and skill to get this far in the process! Unfortunately I’ve not done the R&G AC but I’ve done two ACs (one successfully) at two different firms so I have a bit of knowledge about the general process!

    1) two weeks is a great amount of time, especially if you feel clued up about the firm!

    2) honestly you do not need that much commercial awareness, I have never felt a case study has needed all the knowledge I had it’s really all about commercial common sense and fundamentally understanding what businesses need to function (Ofc if the firm has a niche e.g Kirkland and PE then it’s likely any commercial element of the AC will be tied into that!) but in my experience I just had to understand the basics of M&A, how shares work in a company but again if you read the news as much as you do, get lots of sources you probably already know a lot more than you think! In my most recent AC, the case study was to pick an investment option for a company and pitch to the CEO so really I didn’t use any commercial awareness just common sense lol!

    3) in the interview, they want to know about you, so a lot of the questions in interviews will be more about your CV, who you are as a person, what motivates you to go into commercial law and ofc why the firm. In my experiences commercial questions in interviews have either been about my job or about who the firms competitors are/moral legal questions (which I was surprised by as a non-law student!) but as long as you show them they way you think and how you navigate those sorts of questions then you are on the right track.

    4) I know the TCLA has some great resources if you can get a premium account I would suggest doing so as they have really good videos and lectures, I was a big big fan of Chris Stoakes all you need to know about the city as a great foundation of my commercial knowledge and Jake Schlogger’s commercial law handbook which is short and brilliant. I also know the TCLA has a previous interview experience section in the forum so someone may have written about what they did/what things were asked at a previous R&G AC!

    Sorry for the long post but I hope this answers some of your questions and gives you a bit of confidence going into an AC! And best of luck with everything :D
     
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    AvniD

    Legendary Member
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    Oct 25, 2021
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    Hi all!

    I've got an assessment centre for Ropes & Gray coming up on March 8th. I've been moving from Scotland to England which has been very hectic and which also means I'm starting my prep right today as I was busy moving and packing before. Thus, I basically have 2 weeks to get up to speed with everything. I've already researched the firm for my application so I don't need help with this - what I need help with are resources that can help prepare me as best as possible in the 2 weeks that I have. I think some threads here could be helpful but I wanted to open up the floor for others to chime in. I've been watching some videos on how M&A works and things, writing notes about what PE vs. VC investing entail, etc, but it feels all pretty nebulous at the moment.

    One thing I'm scared about is that I don't have a 'niche' area of law that I know everything about - I'm interested in environmental law and ESG in companies, and I know a bit about this but nothing that will 'WOW' the partners that will interview me. I feel like my knowledge of anything isn't deep enough to WOW a partner, unless they ask me about my politics courses on decolonialism lol. I do know however I can brush up on interesting stories and make it seem like I have profound knowledge (I did debate and theatre so its a pretty handy combo) but am just scared of being grilled to the point of coming up with a brain fart at the end of the questioning line.

    I read the FT, Guardian and Economist pretty regularly but I feel like my ADHD doesn't let me take in a lot of details (so I would say I'm commercially aware but will have to do recaps on how current trends will affect R&G clientele etc). Should I maximise my prep and just focus on one source for news?

    Also, do you folk know of anybody that has done a R&G AC in the first place? If so please send them my way!

    LOTS OF QUESTIONS and comments here: you can tell I'm terrified. I guess the main help I need right now are ways to maximise my 2 weeks and what things to focus on when trying to learn business jargon/concepts/corporate law pillars I don't know of as a non-law student. Is it worth doing a forage course? Ropes and Gray doesn't have one but I can do a competitor's one I guess? I'm just afraid of doing it and having wasted my time because they're mostly roleplay rather than educational content.
    I think @thirdtimelucky has given you a fantastic answer already, and I don't have much to add except a few thoughts that I'm including below.
    • If you haven't already, you may benefit from consolidating your firm research into one place so that your efforts, esp. in building your commercial awareness, don't seem disparate. Something like this may help.
    • You don't need to know a niche area of law to wow partners. You can literally pick a deal/case from any practice area as long as you're able to break it down into what the crux of the deal/case was ➡️ what the commercial considerations were ➡️ which legal issues propped up and how the firm dealt with them ➡️ the teams that were involved.
    • If you're concerned about not being able to take in details of news stories, maybe try creating a Google Doc where you compile a few stories that interest you and keeping adding on new information as you read about them. This way, all the info related to a given story is accessible and organised in one place, which can help with retaining it better.
    • Linking my AC post here to help you with your prep.
     

    James Carrabino

    Legendary Member
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    Oct 12, 2021
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    Hi all!

    I've got an assessment centre for Ropes & Gray coming up on March 8th. I've been moving from Scotland to England which has been very hectic and which also means I'm starting my prep right today as I was busy moving and packing before. Thus, I basically have 2 weeks to get up to speed with everything. I've already researched the firm for my application so I don't need help with this - what I need help with are resources that can help prepare me as best as possible in the 2 weeks that I have. I think some threads here could be helpful but I wanted to open up the floor for others to chime in. I've been watching some videos on how M&A works and things, writing notes about what PE vs. VC investing entail, etc, but it feels all pretty nebulous at the moment.

    One thing I'm scared about is that I don't have a 'niche' area of law that I know everything about - I'm interested in environmental law and ESG in companies, and I know a bit about this but nothing that will 'WOW' the partners that will interview me. I feel like my knowledge of anything isn't deep enough to WOW a partner, unless they ask me about my politics courses on decolonialism lol. I do know however I can brush up on interesting stories and make it seem like I have profound knowledge (I did debate and theatre so its a pretty handy combo) but am just scared of being grilled to the point of coming up with a brain fart at the end of the questioning line.

    I read the FT, Guardian and Economist pretty regularly but I feel like my ADHD doesn't let me take in a lot of details (so I would say I'm commercially aware but will have to do recaps on how current trends will affect R&G clientele etc). Should I maximise my prep and just focus on one source for news?

    Also, do you folk know of anybody that has done a R&G AC in the first place? If so please send them my way!

    LOTS OF QUESTIONS and comments here: you can tell I'm terrified. I guess the main help I need right now are ways to maximise my 2 weeks and what things to focus on when trying to learn business jargon/concepts/corporate law pillars I don't know of as a non-law student. Is it worth doing a forage course? Ropes and Gray doesn't have one but I can do a competitor's one I guess? I'm just afraid of doing it and having wasted my time because they're mostly roleplay rather than educational content.
    Hi @hungry_for_TC, you already received some excellent answers from @AvniD and @thirdtimelucky and if your interview already happened then I hope it went well!

    I noticed your post and was impressed by your honesty in your comment that you can brush up on some interesting stories and make it seem like you have profound knowledge! Honestly, I think that is a really interesting comment as it reminded me of an article I read in the Wall Street Journal about how ‘interviews are an exercise in deception’ which I think is true in some regards, for better and for worse. Nevertheless, that means that your skills will definitely come in handy going forward and I am sure you have done well in your past interviews as a result!

    The reason for mentioning this is to give you confidence that you will probably do quite well in interviews without stressing too much about preparing individual topics to excess, as I think you are unlikely to get grilled too deeply about a subject. Perhaps read up extra on environmental law/ESG if you are going to claim this as a key interest of yours, but otherwise focus on really keeping up to date with commercial news and developments relating to any firm that you are interviewing for. I recommend Watson’s Daily and the Finimize daily brief and I would also suggest setting a Google Alert for the name of any firms you are interviewing at. Then make sure that you have your motivations truly bedded down as this can really make or break an interview.

    Going forward, you should consider 2 weeks more than enough time to prepare for an AC. Like you, I also went into the application process being unsure of how compelling my interests in certain areas of law were and lacking in commercial awareness. Nevertheless the right kind of preparation for 2-3 days before an interview could really get me where I needed to be to keep up the ‘exercise in deception’ over an assessment day!

    Don’t stress as your adaptability is an asset that I know will help you excel :)
     

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