Macfarlanes Interview 2019 - 2020

Discussion in 'Interview Experiences 2019 - 2020 Cycle' started by Jaysen, Mar 18, 2020.

  1. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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    *Kindly note, we have redacted a fair amount from this interview experience so as to not spoil the exercise.

    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.


    January 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Vacation Scheme 2020

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    9:30 - 3pm

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    ice breaker (15 minutes) , group exercise (20 mins reading through information), negotiations exercise (20 minutes) , written exercise (30 minutes), interview (45 minutes).

    When you arrive at Macfarlanes they will sit you down and do an ice breaker exercise with the person next to you - you have to think of a famous person you'd like to spend a day with - people said stuff like David Attenborough or Queen Elizabeth!

    Then you get split into 3 groups, Group A, B and C. You are taken to a room with an Associate. I was in Group C and I was with 4 others. We had to read a 1 page document where the basic facts were that one company wanted to acquire another (Target) and you were working on the due diligence part of the transaction. Within our group we were given 4 pieces of information and we needed to decide which pieces were the most important and which needed to be included in the executive summary. Roughly the points were something on the lines of:

    1. The Target company can't find [redacted] and the [redacted] has resigned;
    2. The Target has a loan of 8 million with a bank which becomes [redacted];
    3. The Target company has T&C which are not inline with [redacted];
    4.The Target company has a "Target Villa" which was bought at a discount but [redacted].

    Then you are split into 2's (but as we were 5 we did a 2:3 split) and we had to negotiate. We were acting on behalf of the sellers. You are given another page of instructions to read where you are told 4 main points. From what I can remember they were: 1. The Seller did not want to guarantee that he will pay for [redacted]. He wanted to include terms [redacted] which said that he will only pay if [redacted].
    2. The Seller wanted to continue [redacted].
    3. Someone from the Target company was supposed to remain employed by [redacted].
    4. There was some machinery which cost £1 million and [redacted].

    We then had our interviews which were based on reading a set of facts and a loan agreement. In essence there was a company which was trying to expand by offering sporting equipment and it had a loan with a bank. The company that you were representing wanted to know if it can:
    [redacted]

    You have to read the loan agreement it has different clauses. There is a clause dealing [redacted].

    The interview itself was very conversational! Why law, Why them! And time I had to deal with a challenge, time I dealt with a situation which was time pressured, and also a time when I have felt most stressed.

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    See above.

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    Make sure you prepare and follow STAR for your interview. The feedback I got back as to why I wasn't successful was that I didn't follow STAR in the interview too well.

    Were you successful?

    No
     
  2. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    February 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Spring Vacation Scheme

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    9am arrival
    Group exercise
    Written exercise
    Lunch
    Work shadowing for 2 hours
    Partner interview

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    Group exercise – ran by a trainee or another junior lawyer
    M&A deal and you act as either the buyer or seller and negotiate 4 terms. Concede on 2 and win on 2.
    Just work well in your team (there’s 2 people on each side) by listening to your partner, sharing time in the negotiation etc. There is nothing difficult to comprehend in the deal but I guess you could demonstrate commercial awareness by coming up with innovative solutions.

    Written exercise
    Very hard as you only have 30 minutes. Read the sheets very carefully!

    Task: Calculating the amount of shares to be paid by each person in accordance with a contract and explaining it in an email.

    Watch your maths obviously -- it had been a long time since I had done some!

    In the email use headings and short sentences, be concise because you don’t have the time to be long winded.

    I’m pretty sure I got the maths wrong or something (I don't really know though because I have heard that if you get the maths wrong you're automatically out) and I still got onto the scheme so I would try and be correct but it isn’t the end of the world. Focus on writing the email well.

    Work shadowing for 2 hours
    - Not assessed
    - Just chatted with the trainee and each other
    - Didn’t shadow any work

    Lunch -- was able to talk to trainees and ask for tips.

    Partner interview
    40 minutes
    20 minutes case study, 20 minutes you
    There were 2 partners there but only 1 was talking.

    Case study was about whether the actions of a company violated the loan agreement or not.

    Read the case study properly. It sounds obvious but I didn’t and got it wrong because of that. But it was fine as the partner led me in the right direction. I tried to bring in commercial awareness stuff but it wasn’t really relevant so I’d say just stick to the contract and make sure you understand that. My friend got everything on point for the case study and didn't get the offer so remember that everything is holistic and they are looking for the finished product.

    Remaining questions were classic competency ones (e.g resilience, teamwork) , why law and why Macfarlanes.

    Could ask 2 questions in the end. I asked how they saw themselves as different from Travers because I hadn’t prepped any questions. Then I remembered that the partner was in PE so I asked him a bit about that since I am interested in it. Probably showed a bit of commercial awareness there as I asked about Elizabeth Warren's PE reform proposals.

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    See above.

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    Group exercise -- give everyone a chance to talk. Don't get too bogged down in each condition, its not a real deal and you are being assessed on your teamwork skills.
    Written exercise -- read the sheets properly!!! Make sure you leave 5 minutes to read over your work.
    Work shadowing -- not assessed in the slightest, none of us did anything.
    Partner interview -- don't let nerves overtake you, be confident and yourself and read the case study properly! Focus on the case study at hand instead of trying to force commercial awareness in.

    Were you successful?

    Yes
     
  3. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    February 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Spring Vacation Scheme 2020 but moved to Summer

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    I arrived early and made myself comfortable as I waited for others. It is advised you do this so you have a bit of time to calm your nerves before the day starts. Once people started arriving, it also helps to make conversations with everyone and get to know each other. This is especially key if there are group tasks or negotiations during the day. There were 15 of us.

    Collected by graduate recruitment around 9-9:10am and taken to a fairly large room with a U shaped table arrangement. The grad rec started by congratulating everyone, assuring us all there are plenty of spaces left and what the day will consist of.

    9:30am was when the first exercise began - the negotiations and group discussions. We were split into three groups of 4 or 5 people.
    10:45/11am - written task
    12:00 - lunch with associates
    1pm - shadow a trainee in a group (our trainee just took us to the firm cafeteria and had a long chat about his experiences and answered our questions)
    2:15/2:30 - 15 minutes reading before the final in-tray and interview with a partner and senior associate which lasted around 45 minutes.
    Final talk with the grad recruitment and sorted out expenses.

    After each exercise we had plenty of time to go to the bathroom and have little chats with others in the main room.

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    1a. Group discussions with an associate taking notes and guiding us:
    We were given a pack of information to read through and familiarise ourselves with what the issues at hand are before we discussed with each other. It was an acquisition with additional information about the buyer's goals and the needs of the target. Even though there is an associate to time you, it is still important to be aware of how long you are spending on each point. So, it is good practice to simply say to the group 'let's move on to the next point and see if we can come back to this later' when appropriate. If there was a particular point the associate wasn't sure of, he'd come in and ask the whole group to clarify.

    1b. Negotiation:
    The group was further split into two sides with the associate deciding who represents the target and the buyer. I represented the target company. We spent few minutes deciding which needs we could concede on and which points that needed to be strongly upheld.

    2. Written task: 30 minutes to read, calculate and write
    We were given a pack of information about a client who is seeking to buy shares back from employees that are leaving for various reasons. These reasons determine what group they fall into and subsequently how many shares and how these can be calculated. A little of basic maths is involved. The answers need to be written in a table on a separate piece of paper.

    Next, you are to write an email to the client advising him of what options are available to him according to the contract and definitions given. This needs to be succinct and well structured.

    3. In-tray and interview
    Before we go into the interview room, we're taken to a different room to go over a short contract with questions pertaining to the needs of a client. Again, it is really important to read carefully because you may come to the wrong conclusion if you don't. In the event that you do, however, the interviewers will guide you towards the right question or ask you questions to justify your answer.

    Next, the CV blind interview lasted around 20 minutes. We discussed a mutual experience both the partner and I had which helped me to build a good rapport. At this point, we were simply having a discussion about something completely unrelated but it helped to know I was at least showing my ability to just 'be normal'! I did have questions prepared to ask at the end but after getting to know the interviewers more as well as the firm after the shadowing element of the AC, I asked them questions based on that. I asked them one each as we'd already had two knocks on the door from grad rec indicating to wrap up.

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    1. Why Macfarlanes?
    2. Why do you want to be a commercial solicitor?
    3. When have you overcome a challenge?

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    1. Group discussion + negotiations:
    It is crucial to listen properly, give the other side enough time to explain themselves before you make your points. It is really important here to not take the back seat and allow others to take lead. Try to think strategically, bring wider commercial awareness in and show good communication skills.

    2. Written task: 30 minutes to read, calculate and write
    Key thing to remember here is to read carefully so you are not missing anything. It's best to stick to the points raised by the client so it would be helpful to re-read what the client's goals are once more before you start writing. Timing really is of the essence so there's a need to mentally prepare how you will structure the email and start writing.

    3. In-tray
    Again, read carefully. When you are presenting to the interviewers on what you think of the contract, don't be scared to pause and ask them if they have any questions or if they need anything to be clarified. If you begin to realise you've made an error, just be upfront and ask for a moment to re-read and gather your thoughts. I did this a few times and the partner seemed to not mind at all, in fact he was encouraging me to do so. I was asked hypothetical questions too surrounding the contract, such as 'in what circumstances could the bank lend to x' so just be aware they might not follow the guideline too strictly.

    4. Interview
    Be confident! Give lots of details as it is a CV blind so they will know nothing about you except your name. It's a very long day so make sure you have your energies up till the end.

    Were you successful?

    Yes
     
  4. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    February 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Summer Vacation Scheme

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    Arrive at 9 am, introductory talk with grad rev and get to know other people on the AC (13 on my day), 1st morning session - group negotiation, 2nd morning session - written exercise, lunch with trainees and grad rev, 3 groups for afternoon rotating between shadowing trainees twice and partner interview

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    Negotiation
    Groups of 4/5
    15 mins to read about an M&A situation which we then discussed due diligence issues and what you would highlight to your client as a group with a solicitor.
    We were then split into pairs with 15 mins to discuss how we planned to go about the negotiation and then we were left to negotiate.
    The aim was to reach a decision on all four aspect worth each side conceding on two, however my group didn’t reach an agreement and it wasn’t the end of the world because two of us got the scheme.
    My main advice on this is to read everything through carefully and put yourself in the shoes of the client.
    Basic M&A knowledge would definitely help.

    Written exercise
    Only had 30 mins and was extremely time pressured.
    Had 30 mins to read through all the documents and fill out a table and write an email to the client (handwritten).
    There are a lot of different documents which all relate to each other so don’t start writing until you have carefully looked at all of them.
    They try and trick you out with small details so read carefully.
    Basic maths is involved (multiplication of large amounts of money and division).
    Make sure to leave enough writing time as you want to write a well structured and thought out email.

    Partner/associate interview
    Before you go into the interview you are taken into a separate room where you are given 15 mins to read over an in-tray exercise (mine was about loans and contracts). There were three aspects they said they would discuss so make sure you look at all of the aspects as they will ask you about all of them.
    What they are looking for here is your thought process and resilience.
    I found the exercise extremely challenging and I didn’t understand it all but they tried to guide you to find the right answer and it seemed like they were looking for your justification and reasoning.
    At the same time, if you are certain on your view then stick with it because they will play devils advocate.
    It’s meant to be a challenging scenario and in my interview the partner and senior associate disagreed with each other about what they would advise the client to do, so don’t be too worried if you want decide either, just pick and justify it!
    The second part of the interview was general competency questions.

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    Why Macfarlanes and commercial law? When have you had to balance many tasks and time manage? Have you had to work with difficult people and how did you deal with the situation? What would you do if a client asked you to do something which you didn’t think was the best move for them to make?

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    Negotiation
    It’s a group exercise so part of it is about how you were together, respect other people’s ideas and don’t be too domineering.
    Make sure you do say something for each aspect but don’t just talk for the sake of talking (some people spoke without really thinking about what they were saying, however I spoke less but on probably more valuable points).
    For preparation I would say try and look at how the general M&A structure works, however this isn’t the main focus.
    If you have an opportunity to practice negotiating before then do!

    Written exercise
    Not much you can really do to prepare.
    On the day just make sure you read over everything and leave enough time to finish!

    Partner interview
    Practice the general competency/interview questions.
    I know other people on the AC were asked slightly different questions to me but they were all along the general lines of a standard interview as well as some questions on current commercial news stories you’ve been following.
    Macfarlanes is big on personality so try and show that off in the interview. My interview felt more like a conversation than an interrogation and all of us were laughing (although keep it professional no silly jokes).

    During the other aspects of the day (lunch and trainee shadowing) although you aren’t being “assessed” they are still watching you and you want to make sure you remain fun and friendly but professional, I would say on my AC some people broke this a bit and it probably didn’t help.

    Were you successful?

    Yes
     
  5. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
    Staff Member

    Messages:
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    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    January 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Summer Vacation Scheme 2020

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    9:15am Arrival,
    9:30am Welcome and introduction,
    10:00am Negotiation exercise,
    11:15am Written exercise,
    12:00pm Lunch,
    12:45pm Interviews and work shadowing,
    3:30pm Questions and close.

    There were 15 of us in total but in every exercise, we were split into groups of 5.

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    Negotiation exercise:
    15 minutes to read through a case briefing: a client is merging with another company and wants to know what they should take into consideration when reaching a deal.
    45 minutes remaining: the group was split into 2 and 3 people (each side representing one side of the deal). Need to be able to come to a compromised conclusion where both parties are relatively happy.

    Written exercise:
    30 minutes to read and write a letter regarding how much shares a company is bound (based on the contract in front of you) to give back to 4 ex-employees. you will then have to fill in a table briefly on the answer concluded in the letter. You have to keep time by yourself, but they will let you know when the time is up.

    Interview:
    15 minutes to read a case study regarding a clause in a contract. Need to be able to advise the client whether they are allowed to carry out some actions they intended.
    20/5 minutes discussing your answer with 2 partners (or 1 partner 1 associate), they will challenge your answer.
    20/5 minutes competency question.

    Shadowing:
    Will be taken around by a trainee on a brief tour of the office.

    Lunch:
    With the trainee and graduate recruitment

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    Why Macfarlanes?
    I stated that I am from a multilingual background, so they asked Why law and not a translator (or a job more language-related)?
    Why do you want to be a city lawyer?
    Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a challenge, and how did you do it?
    (on that question I stated that I worked for NCS and they asked to further explain the role.)

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    Negotiation:
    You need to provide relevant input that can help further the negotiation,
    Try not to be too silent even if someone is very vocal,
    you will be split into smaller groups (2 and 3) so talk with your partner, show teamwork from the start. Plan on who is going to say what.
    identify what is essential for the client and what is preferable, don't push your point if it's not agreed. Both parties need to be happy by the end.
    Bring in commercial knowledge outside the brief (but related)
    You need to conclude at the end of that 40/45 minutes.

    Written:
    There was some math involved, you're not allowed a calculator so practise simple maths in preparation.
    30 minutes goes very quickly when your reading a new and complicated brief so plan your time properly. Practise reading a complicated text quickly while still understanding the context (print articles from the financial times, then bullet point your understanding).
    Practise letter writing, and have correct grammar and punctuation.
    It's important you finish the task.

    Interview:
    When reading your case study before going into the interview write a quick structure down. (The first question will probably be broad so make sure you understand the context as a whole and the aim of the client).
    Think before you speak, it's worse to say something wrong because you did not think it through than to be silent for an extra 30 seconds.
    Bring in commercial knowledge into your answer, they will not ask you directly to do this but it is a subtle request you need to understand.
    You need to have a conversation with them, less of a question and answer.

    Were you successful?

    No
     

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