• Applications for Shearman & Sterling's vacation schemes are now open! Apply now.

Norton Rose Fulbright Interview 2021

BK

Legendary Member
Future Trainee
Gold Member
Premium Member
M&A Bootcamp
Aug 26, 2020
155
77
Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.
February 2021

Please specify what the interview was for.

Spring Vacation Scheme

Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

(we were split up into different groups, so timings differed depending on if you were in group A or B)
9:30 Arrival
10:00 Talk from Graduate Recruitment
11:00 Case Study
12:30 Partner Interview
14:00 Break
14:30 Negotiation
16:00 Close

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


Case Study
- We basically had to make a presentation to the CEO of a company based on reading the fact file and what the company wants to achieve.
- You had 20-30 mins to read through 8 pages of documents and then 20 mins to present and have a discussion with a senior associate.
- I only got 2 follow up questions based on my presentation. The associate and I spent the last 15 mins or so chatting about law and their work.

Partner Interview
- Joined at my allocated slot via Zoom and waited in the waiting room.
- Interview lasted 50 minutes, with 5 mins for questions.

Negotiation
- The negotiation was not a 'typical M&A' deal where X buys Y. But knowledge of M&A negotiations will come in handy.
- We were in a group of 4. We had 30 mins or so to read through a client brief. We were then split into two - with two working for one client and one working for the other side.
- We were put into break out rooms and had to discuss the points with our partner. A senior associate was also in the break out room and was assessing our discussion.
- After 30 mins we were moved back to the main room to negotiate with the other side. Grad Rec and associates were assessing the negotiation.

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.


Case study
1) Try to sound like you know what you are talking about. Project your voice and be engaging (use hand gestures and vary the tone of your voice). Analyse why you chose the option you did, and why the other options are not good for the client.
2) Bring in wider news stories if possible or applicable but do not try to force it. Partner

Interview
1) Be prepared to be interrogated. Try not to take it personally, I think everyone had similar interviews based on discussions.
2) Have a broader understanding about the topics you have spoken about in your application (for example if you mention an M&A deal - understand why companies merge, SPACs, IPOs, current M&A deals and the role of lawyers in facilitating these deals).
3) Try to build rapport with your interviewers. I really struggled with this.

Negotiation
1) Come up with a plan with your partner as to how you will tackle the negotiation.
2) Listen carefully to what is being said and respond accordingly.
3) You will have points in your brief that the other side won't, so it is important to remember this!
4) Always keep track of time - grad rec will only tell you when you have one minute remaining.
5) Confirm where you have gotten to after you discuss a key point. (e.g. 'So to confirm, we have agreed on a purchase price of £1 million'.) It was very easy to forget what we had agreed.

Were you successful?

Yes
 

BK

Legendary Member
Future Trainee
Gold Member
Premium Member
M&A Bootcamp
Aug 26, 2020
155
77
Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.
May 2021

Please specify what the interview was for.
Direct Training Contract 2023

Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

10am Arrival and Talk From Graduate Recruitment,
10:45am Case Study,
11:45 Break,
12:45 Negotiation Exercise,
1:45pm Break,
2:45pm Interview with Two Partners.

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

Case Study - 30 minutes to read through some Powerpoint slides with info on investment opportunities for a company; 30 minutes to present your decision to a senior associate and take any questions.

Negotiation exercise - 30 minutes to read through information on a seller's shares and discuss with one other interviewee whilst one assessor silently observed; 30 minutes to negotiate the terms of the sale purchase agreement with the buyer's solicitors - the two other interviewees - whilst being observed by two assessors.

Interview with two partners from the London office lasting up to an hour; one partner from the Insolvency team and one from the Planning team.

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.

The individual exercise was pitching to the CEO of a fictional company which you were a manager in. The CEO was a senior associate at the firm who I believe had all the same information that you had. You had to decide which option was best to invest a set amount of money in. You were given brief info on each option regarding cost, revenue potential, time period and local, national and international impact. The task was to pick the one which fit with the CEO's aims best. There were also considerations of individual directors you had to consider. You had 30 minutes to prepare, and the rest of the time was spent presenting your recommendations as well as taking questions. It was a role play exercise, so I tried my best to stay in character. They were clear that they wanted you to justify why you did not pick each option and I thought it was best to rank them as well. The questions were generally fine - I was asked how the pandemic may impact any option so it would be good to consider things that have happened commercially in the last year. Preparation for this should generally focus on commercial awareness and business basics.

For the negotiation exercise, you were put into pairs to discuss your clients’ objectives for 30 minutes. You had to decide who was speaking on each point of the negotiation and what would be your worst- or best-case scenarios. I would recommend that you and your partner agree to work from the same notes and share these afterwards - we had difficulties sharing our notes after the first half ended but it did not impact us too much. The next 30 minutes you were negotiating with the other pair. It worked well over video and you were able to privately chat with your partner when needed – saying things like ‘let me just consider that point with my partner privately’ helped. I would strongly recommend reading Jacob's article on negotiations as this helped a lot. We disagreed with the other side on things, but we all remained courteous and just became more assertive on non-negotiable points.

The interview was with two partners. It was very focused on my application, so it is key to know this inside out. There was also a lot of emphasis on a scenario one partner put to me - it was about a company selling some sort of plant in Mozambique. I was asked about the basics of an asset sale and what type of things you would have to think about as a lawyer, so I spoke about employment, regulations, environmental impact etc. The scenario progressed and I was asked some more difficult questions - one was about whether the actions of a client would cause bribery concerns. It was hard to prepare for these questions, but I would recommend getting the basics of an acquisition from a source like Jake Schogger’s book on commercial awareness. Maybe some research on how to tackle ‘morally challenging’ scenarios as well. One partner seemed quite harsh in their questioning and the other was much friendlier. It seemed at times a little hard to predict as the partners were interrupting each other to ask different questions.

I would say be prepared to be challenged on whatever you say - I backed up certain things but other aspects it seemed OK to reconsider what I said.

Were you successful?
Waiting to hear back
 

BK

Legendary Member
Future Trainee
Gold Member
Premium Member
M&A Bootcamp
Aug 26, 2020
155
77
Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.
May 2021

Please specify what the interview was for.
Direct Training Contract 2023

Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.
Prior to the interview, there was a Q&A session on 24th May. The Graduate Recruitment team gave some really good advice, including to always think of issues from a PR perspective, which ended up being handy for both the case study and partner interview.

10am Arrival and introduction with graduate recruitment
10:45am Case Study
11:30 Break
12:30 Negotiation
1:30pm Break
2:45pm Partner interview

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

Case Study
We were given a powerpoint presentation to download with the background info and instructions. The CEO of a fictional company had given three options on ways to raise the company's profile. It was our task to choose one of these three options and give a 5-10 minute presentation on why we thought it was most appropriate (as well as why the other two were less so).

Negotiation
Again, we were given a powerpoint presentation with the information for our side, which involved a share purchase. My partner and I were then given 30 minutes to prepare (assessed by one associate), before returning to the virtual room with the other team to begin our negotiation (assessed by the same associate plus the associate that was assessing the other team). We also had to send in our team's private zoom chat.

Partner Interview
Focused heavily on what I had written in my application. Questions ranged from what I had learned from each work experience, to situational judgement questions, to commercial awareness.

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.

Case Study
Try to structure your presentation well. I gave a brief intro, stated the option I had chosen and then went through each factor (finance method, impact, revenue increase), explaining why my option was more appropriate than the other two. Without giving away the specifics of the case study too much, I also tried to throw in a bit of commercial awareness, for example how international expansion may not be most appropriate (despite being something the CEO was looking for) given cost competition from Asian manufacturers etc.

I focused heavily on ESG values and how shareholder value did not just mean profit, I also talked about goodwill and the benefits of longer term financing (remember cash flow is very important for how a business keeps running!). Overall, any of the commercial awareness books came in handy for this exercise.

Negotiation
It's really easy to have lots of plans for what you're going to say in this exercise, for example suggesting to keep time and make notes etc (so did I), but just remember that probably every candidate has read Jacob's negotiation article! So while it is very handy, it's probably a good idea to think of other ways to stand out. Before the assessment day, I had prepared a document with three boxes for each issue. Box 1 was for the best possible outcome for our client, Box 2 was a good option and Box 3 would be our 'take it or leave it' i.e. the bare minimum the client had asked for. I shared my screen with my partner and explained it and he suggested adding a fourth box which would be 'concessions' i.e. what we would use to bargain. In the end, I think this really showed our ability to collaborate.

When it came to the actually negotiation, I didn't feel like I had performed particularly well. Everyone was very assertive and well-prepared and I felt as though I spoke the least out of everyone and that I lost track of quite a few of the items we were talking about. In hindsight, I wish I had taken a couple of minutes to really read and focus on the points I was going to negotiate by myself prior to the actual negotiation. I think my performance in the other interviews ended up outweighing my not so good performance here. One thing I thought that the other team did really well was begin very friendly, but when it came to the last issue they were quite stern. They gave us an offer and we tried to counter it and they immediately responded that there was nothing more they could give (even though I'm sure there was). My partner and I were not so quick which probably gave away that we were able to accept their offer (which we did in the end).

Partner Interview
I had a general banking partner and an asset finance partner who focused on aircraft. I have work experience researching the airline industry so this proved handy for commercial awareness. I got asked about all the cases I mentioned on my application, so know them inside out! They asked me about one case, and the partner said he'd read a similar judgement recently and I asked him about it, so he was talking about that for a good 5 mins which wasted a bit of time and helped me build rapport with him.

I was also asked about a commercial news story, so I talked about carbon prices to which one partner asked me if I had read about the Shell judgement, which then led to a discussion on whether I think oil production should be more regulated, and whether NRF should support oil companies ethically speaking. I said that while they should do more to reduce carbon emissions, the revenue from oil projects is required to allow these companies to invest in more expensive renewables projects which they seemed happy with.

At the end, it was my turn to ask questions, so I directed some questions to the asset finance partner about the airline industry so I could drop in some commercial awareness, we talked about when the airline industry will return to normal/how asset finance dynamics have changed when it comes to lease negotiation etc. In general it was a really enjoyable interview.

Were you successful?
Yes