Demilade began her Training Contract with Herbert Smith Freehills in August 2016 after graduating with First Class Honours from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Bachelor of Laws (LLB). She spills her top tips and what surprised her the most throughout the process.
Why did you choose this firm and this role?
Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) appealed to me because of its strong reputation and leading market position across a wide range of practice areas and client sectors. Having completed vacation schemes and open days at various firms in the City, HSF's culture and genuine commitment to its people stood out for me. As a vacation scheme student, I was exposed to various matters which the team was working on, given early responsibility (with adequate supervision) and felt like an integral member of the team from day one. People at the Firm also showed a genuine interest in my personal development and provided all the necessary support.
In line with my interest in the energy sector and my background as a Nigerian qualified lawyer, I am keen to complete my training contract in departments involved in African work and developing economies more generally. Consequently, I applied to complete my first seat in the Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Finance team.
What was the toughest part of the application process? And your favourite part?
The toughest part for me was completing the application form. This was because I applied to a large number of firms and did not appreciate the subtle nuances in the questions across the various firms. This resulted in a number of rejections. However, I quickly learnt from my mistakes and was able to secure offers from different firms during the next recruitment season, including firms which initially rejected me.
My favourite part was the vacation scheme at HSF which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was an intense three weeks of hard work, training sessions and social events. It also gave me the opportunity to learn a lot more about the Firm and meet various people, some of whom are now colleagues.
Were you surprised by anything in the process?
Generally, I believe I underestimated the amount of time required to complete the application process (from the initial application form to final interview) for various firms alongside managing deadlines and other activities at university.
More specifically, I was also surprised by the extent to which the graduate recruitment team and people across different levels at HSF (from trainee to partner) reached out to assist me during the decision making process, after receiving my training contract offers.
What three top tips would you give to graduates applying now?
- Strike the right balance between quantity and quality. Researching and thoroughly completing the application forms, online tests and other interview processes requires a lot of time and commitment. Whilst it is advisable to apply to a number of firms to maximise one's chances, there is a risk that applying to too many firms would diminish the quality of each application. In my view, it is advisable to make fewer, more focused, nuanced quality applications than numerous generic ones.
- Know yourself. Having a good understanding of your values, interests and ambitions would help you in shortlisting the firms to apply to. It would also make it easier to tailor your experiences when responding to application/interview questions so as to demonstrate your suitability for the role and the firm.
- Try to gain as much exposure as possible to various firms. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between firms on the basis of website information, therefore attending open days, firm events and speaking to lawyers at the firm is a good way to gain a better insight. This would also put you in good stead during the application process as it shows your commitment to the firm.
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