Why this firm?

Discussion in 'Applications Discussion' started by Amanda, Jun 11, 2019.

  1. Amanda

    Amanda Star Member

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    Hi everyone,
    Does anyone know where I can find the list of factors which could be considered to answering the question "Why this firm?"
    Many thanks - I just remember there being a long list of things we could mention in our applications which was really helpful but I cant seem to find it anywhere!
    A link to it would be amazing!

    Many thanks
     
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  2. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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  3. Amanda

    Amanda Star Member

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    Thank you Jaysen! :D
     
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  4. RickyN7

    RickyN7 Standard Member

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    I've had some trouble with researching firms due to a number of reasons.

    When I look at firms of interest, the first thing I look for personally is their practice strengths relative to their competitors. This is because I have an (admittedly faint) idea for what type of practice I might be most interested in, so I target firms of at least some renown in that area.
    The issue that follows is that I feel full-service firms (like CMS) don't really have a particular specialism, and it is harder to showcase the motivation to join that firm because of X and Y practices in particular.

    Following on from this, some firms do not display representative experience (e.g. Taylor Wessing). This makes it hard to know what kind of work is carried out within the departments, and what parts of a sector they service. I've resorted to alternative means of researching the clients a firm works with (like Legal 500), but they are rather limited.

    Finally, some firms' strategies internationally and locally remain indiscernible, despite research. DLA Piper for example - I see no ambitious future plans or recent milestones. DLA appears to be perennially-strong in the mid-market across the board. They have one of the largest office networks worldwide, having grown it slowly since the 2005 tie-up... and... that's it? No recent groundbreaking mergers, like BCLP's fully-integrated merger, or A&O's and CMS' ideas for US tie-ups... Seems like it's committed to slow growth and consolidation. Not much exciting stuff talk about. If I'm missing anything, do enlighten me.

    P.S: Sorry to revive an old thread, just thought these are uncertainties others might share or want to discuss.
     
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  5. Syafiqkay92

    Syafiqkay92 Star Member

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    Hi Ricky

    I understand your problem as I have been struggling with this too.

    At first glance, all City law firms are similar. Their clients are mainly large corporations, banks or investment funds etc. The key is to find one thing that you find interesting and focus on that.

    Let me give you an example. CMS has this initiative called CMS Equip. The initiative is aimed at start-up, giving them legal advice and service at a fraction of the actual cost, in the hope that they are able to win work from these firms when they become a more mature company. When you are writing about why you want to join CMS, you need to emphasise this point but make it in such a way that you are open to experiencing the full service offering that CMS has to offer. This way, they know that your angle is start-ups that has a potential to grow into mature companies in the future, which is in line with the firm strategy.

    On the second point, that the firm do not show representative experience, your strategy of researching Legal 500 is good enough. Just make a generalised statement about the kind of work that they do and use that as your anchor point. I think for the purpose of application, you don't need an extensive understanding of the work that they do. You find that information when you work for the firm (or do a vac scheme).

    On your last point, I agree. It is very difficult to find out exactly what the firm strategy is. It makes sense because law firms (even companies) don't publish this publicly. The only way you can find out is to deduce this based on how they market themselves. If I were you, what I would do is to find a few key people in the practice area that you are interested in and see what are the common themes in the work that they do. You can then deduce their strategy.

    One final thing that I learned to be useful when researching the firm is to break down like this.
    1. What the firm is selling, i.e. service offering? This is usually representation in a deal or defence of a litigation etc.
    2. Who are the buyer of those service offering and why are they buying? This can be legal departments (in the case of large corporations) or CEO (in the case of start-up) or fund manager etc. Choose one segment of the legal market and try to find out who makes the decision to hire a law firm.
    3. How do the firm make themselves available to potential buyer, i.e. marketing? This can be by publishing article about a specific issues facing business or sponsoring a trade event etc.
    4. How do the firm turns that marketing into paying clients? This can be more difficult but just make a few deduction based on the information that they have on the website. For example, they may say that every client has a dedicated partner, account manager and project manager. They may have training session that clients may join. They may have diversity initiative or climate change initiative that will help clients boost their reputation.

    I am no where good at this and always looking for opportunity to learn. Let me know what you think.

    Kind Regards,
    Syafiq.
     
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  6. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
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    I think this is a great post and would certainly say you are good at this! It is all about going beyond the 'trailer' of a firm and really getting to the heart of their business strategy and finding out what makes them unique.

    In terms of research i set up Google Alerts for Latham ahead of my scheme which has helped me to gain more of an insight into current work and deals so definitely do this for firms of your choice. I also scour for news stories, whether new or maybe a bit dated, to get a real sense of the firm and hear from what people at the firm have to say for themselves. If you can find any interviews with managing partners then that is great! Also use YouTube and watch videos that the firm has on their platform as this can really help too. Looking at awards and rankings can also give you a sense of a firm's market position too of course.

    Finally, I would say that the list i compiled for how to differentiate between firms can help which you can find here: https://www.thecorporatelawacademy.com/forum/threads/struggling-to-differentiate-between-firms.1332/.
    Ultimately, we need to know what makes our chosen firms unique and you two are both correct in stating that you need to know where they situate themselves in the market and where their strengths lie. The best way to do this can sometimes be to look at them in relation to their competitors and to look at how they operate as a whole when you break everything down - such as looking how they remunerate and how they are structured - i.e. latham's committee approach. All of these things that can be considered are ways to differentiate your firms and to really extend your research to where it needs to be at the app stage. It is also great to look at firm's in this way for when you get a question at interview where they ask you directly to talk about them in relation to their compeitiors and what keeps them abreast of that competition.

    I am more than willing to help further if you have any further questions :)
     
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