I was recently invited by the Aberdeen University Commercial Law Society to sit on a webinar panel titled “Law School: Steps to Success”, alongside Harry Clark and Dylan Kawende. This webinar was focused on three main topics: commercial awareness, Vacation Scheme/Training Contract application processes and networking. There was a lot covered by myself, Harry and Dylan so in this blog, I’ll try and bullet point a combination of our points on those topics.
1 – Commercial awareness
Click on the button to find a previous blog which contains all of my favourite commercial awareness resources:
Our top tips for building commercial awareness:
- Start early – it takes time to build commercial awareness
- Build time into your day specifically to read
- Pick a couple of sectors/practice areas that you’re particularly interested in to focus on – it’s better to know more detail and have better analysis of a few topics than to try and cover everything in a brief manner
- When you’re more interested in a particular topic, your passion naturally comes out when you’re discussing it in an application/interview – and it’s more interesting for you!
- Carefully analyse the effect of what you’ve read has on the legal market, the law firm and its clients
2 – Vacation Scheme/Training Contract application process
Typically, large commercial firms will have four stages in their application process: online application, online testing, video interview and the assessment centre. You can check out the tabs one the home page of my website for my detailed blogs on each stage of the process, but here is a quick summary our tips:
Preparation for the online application
- Effective firm research takes time, so start early! CLICK HERE for my blog on some resources I used and what to look out for.
- Think about what makes you a unique candidate – then link this to the firm’s values/culture.
- A good starting point is to have records of all your work experiences in a document (with dates etc.) – find some of my other related tips in this blog HERE.
- You’ll also need to demonstrate some commercial awareness in your application – CLICK HERE for some of my favourite resources.
There is no substitute for practice/mock tests BUT before you start, make sure you read up on overviews, guides and technique tips on the test. Do not dive straight into the mock tests!
- You must start preparing for the test as soon as you can as firms usually only give you a small window before the test deadline.
- Always look at your feedback from the mock tests so you know which areas of the test you’re strongest or weakest in, and what you need to work on.
The best way to prepare for a video interview is to prepare flashcards with answers to potential questions. Click on the buttons to check out some tips on video interviews and common questions you can prepare in advance!
The assessment centre can contain a wide variety of tasks, including but not limited to:
- A group exercise
- Case study
- Presentation (solo or in a group)
- Written exercise
Sometimes you can prepare in advance for the exercises, other times you can’t. However, here are some tips to bear in mind for the assessment centre:
- Make sure you’re up-to-date with your commercial awareness and have researched the firm thoroughly.
- If you can, try and find out who you will be interviewed by.
- Always keep a glass of water at your side – it really helps as a slight stalling technique when you need a moment to think.
- Be yourself, personable, smiley and enthusiastic – the firm doesn’t want to see carbon copies of all of its candidates.
Try and relax a little bit at the assessment centre because the firm is also focusing on whether you fit well within the culture of the firm and would work well with members of its team!
3 – Networking
Harry, Dylan and I were asked about our top networking tips. As avid LinkedIn users, I think we’d all agree that LinkedIn is a good starting point. Here are some of our top tips for growing your networking meaningfully:
- Pre-event – before you attend an event, it can be a good idea to connect with the speakers/presenters to introduce yourself and say that you’re looking forward to (virtually) meeting them at the event
- This makes you more memorable when you do introduce yourself or ask questions at the event itself
- Try not to send out spam LinkedIn invitations
- You can add a personalised message when you send out a LinkedIn connection request – and these requests are more likely to be accept!
- If you are messaging someone on LinkedIn, consider the content and tone of your message
- Be respectful of people’s time, so be specific in what you’re asking them about
- Be mindful of what you’re asking from your connection – they’re usually busy people and may not be able to respond straight away
- Generic questions like “can you please give me some tips on this” are less likely to be replied to
- Make sure you’ve done your research first before sending the message (for example, I get a lot of messages on LinkedIn asking for my general tips on the Vacation Scheme/Training Contract application process who haven’t looked at the blogs here first)
- Always thank you connection for their time
- If the person you’ve been speaking to/messaging has taken time out of their day to speak/respond to you, make sure you thank them for their time!
- Ask to keep in touch with them and keep up with their work
I am truly honoured to have been invited to be on this panel alongside Harry and Dylan, both of whom are hugely inspiring! Huge thanks to Nestor and Rami of Aberdeen University Commercial Law Society! If you weren’t able to attend the webinar, I hope this blog gives you a quick summary of the webinar or starting point for your applications! Harry, Dylan and I are all happy to be connected with on LinkedIn so you can keep in touch with us.
Please do let me know if you have any further questions!