Government Legal Department Trainee Scheme AC

Roland

Distinguished Member
Jan 10, 2019
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87
I just got invited to AC for the Government Legal Department trainee scheme. Has anyone interviewed there in previous years? Any tips and guidance would be appreciated!

It will be an hour long written exercise and a panel interview with 2 senior government lawyers and an independent chairperson. Details are below:

'WRITTEN EXERCISE

You will be given a practical legal problem
which you will be asked to analyse and then
address a number of questions.
You will be given 60 minutes to complete the
exercise. The exercise will be taken under test
conditions and you will be asked to complete
your answer on a laptop computer which will
be provided.

The exercise is not a test of legal knowledge
but of your analytical ability, judgement and
your ability to communicate effectively in
writing. If you have been or are studying law,
you will not be given credit for referring to
any legal knowledge beyond the given
material because this would give you an
unfair advantage over those who have not yet
studied law.

As part of the exercise, you will need to
assume that you are writing to a senior
colleague or minister who has asked for your
advice. You will be given the necessary
information about the law which you will
need to refer to in order to advise your
manager.

You should express your thoughts clearly,
using language appropriate to your audience.
However, you do not need to spend time
writing in formal ‘legal opinion’ style (i.e.
formally saying you “are asked to advise etc.”,
followed by a recital of the facts).

Following the written exercise, you will be
given a copy of your response. You will then
spend around 20 minutes reviewing your
response as you prepare to be questioned on
it at the start of the interview. You will have
your response with you during the interview.

INTERVIEW

The interview provides you with a further
opportunity to demonstrate evidence of the
behaviours listed in the ‘What are we looking
for’ chapter. You should expect your interview
to last for 70 minutes.

Your interview panel will comprise two senior
government lawyers and an independent
chairperson. On occasion, observers are
allocated to interview sessions. Where an
observer is present, they will take no part in
either the questioning or decision-making
process.

At the beginning of the interview, the panel
will spend up to 15 minutes questioning you
on your response to the written exercise. This
will enable you to expand upon the key points
which you have made.

Following this, you will be asked a selection of
ability, behaviour and strength-based
questions by members of the interview panel.

At the end of the interview you will be asked
if you have anything to add which you believe
may be relevant to your application. You will
be able to ask the panel any questions you
may have. You will also have the opportunity
of asking for any personal information you
have given to be treated in confidence.'

Many thanks!!
 

Jaysen

Founder, TCLA
Staff member
TCLA Moderator
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M&A Bootcamp
  • Feb 17, 2018
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    Managed to find a future trainee at the GLD, he passed on this advice:

    'The assessment centre when I did it (2018) was comprised of two parts. The written exercise had various documents (fake newspaper cuttings, a fake draft bill) and some questions posed by a minister. The main skills tested were analytical (applying a new law to a fictional situation) and communication (writing a coherent briefing) skills. No prior knowledge of law is required.

    The second part was a panel interview. It involved questions exploring your written briefing; they were testing whether you could defend your conclusions orally. It also had a standard competency interview (if you’ve done grad scheme interviews this should be straight forward). My main tip is to work out exactly what GLD does and find work they’ve done which you find interesting!'
     
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    Jaysen

    Founder, TCLA
    Staff member
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    M&A Bootcamp
  • Feb 17, 2018
    4,029
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    And another very kind future trainee:

    "It will be divided into two parts; a written exercise and an interview. You will need to do less preparation for the written exercise as it designed to test your ability to analyse the materials given to you during the assessment rather than any pre-existing legal knowledge. On the other hand, you absolutely can, and definitely should, prepare for the interview.

    For the written exercise I was given some materials on a particular topic, including fictional legislation, newspaper reports etc. which then formed the basis of the questions. They will all be relevant at some point so don't skip any of them, but you don't need to analyse them too deeply until you start to answer the questions. My advice would be to skim read the materials at start to get an overview of the topic and then spend the bulk of the time on answering the questions. They are trying to test your analytical ability, so you need to ensure that each of your answers draws on the materials given to you and that you use them to answer the specific question. Key takeaways are:

    1. Take your time
    2. The materials are relevant, use them!

    The interview will come after the written exercise. Mine lasted around an hour and a half. It will begin with some questions about your response to the written exercise. You have some time between the written exercise and the interview and this is useful to go back over your answers. Think about the legal problem, look at how the fictional legislation has tried to tackle the problem and try and think of some alternatives. You will also have an opportunity to expand on the answers in the written exercise.

    The bulk of the interview will be competency based and this is where preparation is crucial. You should go into the interview with a concrete example for each of the different competencies. The STAR technique (Situation/Task, Action and Result) is a very useful way of remembering your example and structuring your answer.

    Finally, it's very likely that you'll be asked both why you want to be a lawyer and why you want to work for the government, for example the unique legal challenges that working for the government brings.

    I was also asked about a current legal issue that I was interested in so it would be a good idea to go into the interview with an answer for that prepared."
     
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    Roland

    Distinguished Member
    Jan 10, 2019
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    87
    Is there any difference in the trainee scheme between the solicitor and barrister Assessment Centres?
    Hi there, I think the format will be the same as above but I think the questions you get from the interview panel may differ. For example they may ask why you want to become a barrister as opposed to a solicitor. I only went the my AC and I put trainee scheme as my preference so I can't say for sure.
     

    Matt_96

    Legendary Member
    Premium Member
  • Dec 15, 2018
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    Hi there, I think the format will be the same as above but I think the questions you get from the interview panel may differ. For example they may ask why you want to become a barrister as opposed to a solicitor. I only went the my AC and I put trainee scheme as my preference so I can't say for sure.

    Fair enough. A family member of mine works for the Civil Service and has advised me that the GLS trainee scheme is so competitive (30,000-odd apps per year apparently!) it is best to apply to both streams at once to increase your chances.
     

    Jessica Booker

    Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment
    Premium Member
    Forum Team
    Aug 1, 2019
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    Fair enough. A family member of mine works for the Civil Service and has advised me that the GLS trainee scheme is so competitive (30,000-odd apps per year apparently!) it is best to apply to both streams at once to increase your chances.

    I don’t think this is appropriate advice. The two careers are very distinct and there is a risk that you are seen as not being clearly motivated for either route if you choose both.

    Just because a career/role is competitive, doesn’t mean you should apply to a very different career to improve your chances.
     
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    SCW23

    New Member
    Jul 9, 2021
    1
    0
    Hi! I know this thread is old but I have been invited for an online interview for the Government Legal Trainee Scheme and I was wondering if anyone knew how to prepare or what type of questions they will ask me? Any help is appreciated!
     

    Alison C

    Esteemed Member
    Gold Member
    Premium Member
    Forum Winner
  • Nov 27, 2019
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    Hi! I know this thread is old but I have been invited for an online interview for the Government Legal Trainee Scheme and I was wondering if anyone knew how to prepare or what type of questions they will ask me? Any help is appreciated!
    Check out the 2019 account above - I did the AC last year (2020) and it was pretty much like that. You have about an hour on a written assessment, based on a fictitious piece of legislation, that we were asked to write three different responses to. I think one was to a local council regarding a letter they'd sent about the Act, one was to brief a minister, and I can't remember the third. Basically, it was public law in action. I think I did fine on the written section. Just do an exec summary and really read it. (I didn't like the format, you had to spin up and down on the online page rather than having separate windows, but maybe you can find a workaround??)

    The interview I found less pleasant, but it was my first one. It was very much competency focused and they wanted very structured STAR answers. It was very much in line with their Equal Opps recruitment policy and didn't need to reflect legal work experience - I think it's much more about the style and content of your answers than the knowledge base. Stuff like teamwork, coping with a crisis, the usual. Just have your examples all organised and practise putting them into the STAR structure. As above, my interview was 60-90 mins including the first 15-30 on the written exercise from the morning, and it was pretty intense, with a panel of three: two senior lawyers, one from the Treasury, one from the land/property team in Bristol, and someone from HR.

    They also had a strengths question. They say you can't prepare but you can. I think mine was something about decision-making? There are some Youtube videos on strengths-based questions.

    You will be asked to talk about a current legal story that interests you. I'd been warned off choosing any political hot potatoes, and went for a US/French commercial law story that they didn't even have on their radars so that was a disaster! I'd say go for something in the public domain that you agree with...? Definitely a UK topic, and ideally to do with newly updated legislation (maybe post Brexit?? Maybe something to do with land or something tangible???).

    Also, you will need to specify prior to the interview (on the day) which govt dept you plan to aim for. I had done a ton of research (talking to people in diff depts) but that didn't impress them at all, they wanted to know my choice. Which I hadn't made. Another disaster...

    They will give you written feedback but mine didn't sound like me at all, hence my not re-applying. I'd had a govt lawyer as a mentor at uni and he'd been absolutely fantastic, and even he was confused by the feedback, which was gender-neutral and done with a drop-down menu of comments. For me, I just realised that it was an environment where I wouldn't be at my best, so I'm complete with that. It was great to get to interview though. I think that there were 6.5k applicants for 200 interviews and c 50-70 TCs? There were a lot of hoops and I did prepare carefully for each one.

    If it suits you, it's a brilliant place to have a career, with lots of initiatives and job opportunities. The GLD lawyers I know are genuinely happy in their roles, love the work-life balance and find the work really fascinating. They are a really diverse crowd and hand-selected.

    Good luck! I will try to dig out any useful links over the weekend if I can find them...
     
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    Rachel Bucklow

    New Member
    Feb 13, 2020
    2
    1
    Check out as above - I did the AC last year and it was pretty much like that. You have about an hour on a written assessment, based on a fictitious piece of legislation, that we were asked to write three different responses to. I think one was to a local council regarding a letter they'd sent about the Act, one was to brief a minister, and I can't remember the third. Basically, it was public law in action. I think I did fine on the written section. Just do an exec summary and really read it. (I didn't like the format, you had to spin up and down on the online page rather than having separate windows, but maybe you can find a workaround??)

    The interview I found less pleasant, but it was my first one. It was very much competency focused and they wanted very structured STAR answers. It was very much in line with their Equal Opps recruitment policy and didn't need to reflect legal work experience - I think it's much more about the style and content of your answers than the knowledge base. Stuff like teamwork, coping with a crisis, the usual. Just have your examples all organised and practise putting them into the STAR structure. As above, my interview was 60-90 mins including the first 15-30 on the written exercise from the morning, and it was pretty intense.

    They also had a strengths question. They say you can't prepare but you can. I think mine was something about decision-making? There are some Youtube videos on strengths-based questions.

    You will be asked to talk about a current legal story that interests you. I'd been warned off choosing any political hot potatoes, and went for a US/French commercial law story that they didn't even have on their radars so that was a disaster! I'd say go for something in the public domain that you agree with...? Definitely a UK topic, and ideally to do with newly updated legislation (maybe post Brexit?? Maybe something to do with land or something tangible???).

    Also, you will need to specify prior to the interview (on the day) which govt dept you plan to aim for. I had done a ton of research (talking to people in diff depts) but that didn't impress them at all, they wanted to know my choice. Which I hadn't made. Another disaster...

    They will give you written feedback but mine was truly awful, it literally made me cry! It didn't sound like me at all, hence my not re-applying, I'd had a govt lawyer as a mentor at uni and he'd been brilliant, and even he was appalled at the feedback, which was gender-neutral and done with a drop-down menu of comments. For me, I just realised that it was an environment where I wouldn't be at my best, so I'm complete with that.

    If it suits you, it's a brilliant place to have a career, with lots of initiatives and job opportunities. The GLD lawyers I know are happy in their roles and find the work really fascinating.

    Good luck! I will try to dig out any useful links over the weekend if I can find them...
    Hi Alison, do you have any information on the structure of the video interview? What is the split between competency, motivational and technical questions? And how long do you get to prep and answer each question?
     

    Alison C

    Esteemed Member
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  • Nov 27, 2019
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    Hi Alison, do you have any information on the structure of the video interview? What is the split between competency, motivational and technical questions? And how long do you get to prep and answer each question?
    Hi Rachel - sorry I really can't remember. I don't think that there are any technical q's - they might ask you about your motivations for the GLD and what you know about it (in fact I'm fairly sure they do). It's a fairly standard format, you might have a minute to prepare?? Or 30s? I think there were 3-4 questions.

    They want to know clearly about your motivations for working in the public sector, in government law and in the GLD/HMRC/NCA etc. I think that there may have been one about teamwork? If you look carefully at the GLD job itself, the questions are all targeted around those skills.

    The best advice I can give is to make a grid with each competency listed out, define it for yourself and then think of 2-3 examples where you can really demonstrate it. Write each in a STAR format. Then practise reeling them off so that you can adapt your 'story' to fit the brief. It's all the usual things: work ethic, energy and enthusiasm, time management, independence within a chain of command, responsibility, teamwork, communication... I think that they list the competencies on the GLD website? And remember that you are basically going for a role as a civil servant so you need to be really measured, discreet, fairly apolitical (in relation to your professional role at least), versatile, etc etc.

    Good luck!
     
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    Alison C

    Esteemed Member
    Gold Member
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  • Nov 27, 2019
    85
    162
    Hi! I know this thread is old but I have been invited for an online interview for the Government Legal Trainee Scheme and I was wondering if anyone knew how to prepare or what type of questions they will ask me? Any help is appreciated!
    Hi Alison, do you have any information on the structure of the video interview? What is the split between competency, motivational and technical questions? And how long do you get to prep and answer each question?
    @Nnu @MLF my VI notes say 'a minute to plan, then 2 or 3 to answer, you didn't know until the planning time finished'.

    Then they present on screen written questions, with clear structured prompts to ensure you cover what was needed. USE POST ITS around your computer to have your skills and strengths at your fingertips, and make a quick note of how to answer on another post-it that you can stick under the camera and then smile into the lens with that in the corner of your visual field. Q's included:
    - 'Why do you want to work for us? Include things on: why the GLP, what you know and how it fits with your long term aspirations'.
    - Also, 'How do you feel about having a lot of responsibility? Include previous responsibilities, what projects you like and what e/ment you work best in'.
    - Also, 'When have you had to work on a project with a deadline? What was it, who did you report to, what were your strategies? What challenges did you face?'
    -Also, 'When have you had to work in a team to make a decision and talk about risks and benefits? How did you work together and what was the outcome?'
    I wrote down that there might have been another one too.

    FYI these were similar to what I got asked in person at the interview, which is CV blind and the panel won't have seen your VI.

    The questions probably won't be exactly the same, but you can see the format. Essentially it's the classic questions with a little extra on the agenda. Very clear, very precise, looking for a very particular skillset that is similar to but slightly more team-oriented than typical law firms. It's essentially a form of in-house and your client is usually another govt department.

    Please excuse my slightly rushed answer (and dodgy punctuation) but I hope you have a good experience whatever the outcome. Bright and TCLA have practice VIs but you can also just record yourself on Zoom.

    Also for some strengths background:

    Plus their new framework overview


    Hope that helps you feel armed!
     

    Rachel Bucklow

    New Member
    Feb 13, 2020
    2
    1
    @Nnu @MLF my VI notes say 'a minute to plan, then 2 or 3 to answer, you didn't know until the planning time finished'.

    Then they present on screen written questions, with clear structured prompts to ensure you cover what was needed. USE POST ITS around your computer to have your skills and strengths at your fingertips, and make a quick note of how to answer on another post-it that you can stick under the camera and then smile into the lens with that in the corner of your visual field. Q's included:
    - 'Why do you want to work for us? Include things on: why the GLP, what you know and how it fits with your long term aspirations'.
    - Also, 'How do you feel about having a lot of responsibility? Include previous responsibilities, what projects you like and what e/ment you work best in'.
    - Also, 'When have you had to work on a project with a deadline? What was it, who did you report to, what were your strategies? What challenges did you face?'
    -Also, 'When have you had to work in a team to make a decision and talk about risks and benefits? How did you work together and what was the outcome?'
    I wrote down that there might have been another one too.

    FYI these were similar to what I got asked in person at the interview, which is CV blind and the panel won't have seen your VI.

    The questions probably won't be exactly the same, but you can see the format. Essentially it's the classic questions with a little extra on the agenda. Very clear, very precise, looking for a very particular skillset that is similar to but slightly more team-oriented than typical law firms. It's essentially a form of in-house and your client is usually another govt department.

    Please excuse my slightly rushed answer (and dodgy punctuation) but I hope you have a good experience whatever the outcome. Bright and TCLA have practice VIs but you can also just record yourself on Zoom.

    Also for some strengths background:

    Plus their new framework overview


    Hope that helps you feel armed!
    Thank you so much Alison!! This is very helpful information.
     
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    Nnu

    Star Member
  • Mar 9, 2021
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    @Nnu @MLF my VI notes say 'a minute to plan, then 2 or 3 to answer, you didn't know until the planning time finished'.

    Then they present on screen written questions, with clear structured prompts to ensure you cover what was needed. USE POST ITS around your computer to have your skills and strengths at your fingertips, and make a quick note of how to answer on another post-it that you can stick under the camera and then smile into the lens with that in the corner of your visual field. Q's included:
    - 'Why do you want to work for us? Include things on: why the GLP, what you know and how it fits with your long term aspirations'.
    - Also, 'How do you feel about having a lot of responsibility? Include previous responsibilities, what projects you like and what e/ment you work best in'.
    - Also, 'When have you had to work on a project with a deadline? What was it, who did you report to, what were your strategies? What challenges did you face?'
    -Also, 'When have you had to work in a team to make a decision and talk about risks and benefits? How did you work together and what was the outcome?'
    I wrote down that there might have been another one too.

    FYI these were similar to what I got asked in person at the interview, which is CV blind and the panel won't have seen your VI.

    The questions probably won't be exactly the same, but you can see the format. Essentially it's the classic questions with a little extra on the agenda. Very clear, very precise, looking for a very particular skillset that is similar to but slightly more team-oriented than typical law firms. It's essentially a form of in-house and your client is usually another govt department.

    Please excuse my slightly rushed answer (and dodgy punctuation) but I hope you have a good experience whatever the outcome. Bright and TCLA have practice VIs but you can also just record yourself on Zoom.

    Also for some strengths background:

    Plus their new framework overview


    Hope that helps you feel armed!
    thank you so much! this is amazing!! really appreciate it. will let you know how it goes :)
     
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