We caught up with future trainee solicitor Blaise to find out her advice on how to ace the application process.
What stood out to you about the firm you secured your role with?
From my initial interaction with Macfarlanes, it was clear that they operated on a unique path based on their ethos and goals as a firm — something I immediately respected. From the one office business model, smaller trainee intake and emphasis on quality, Macfarlanes stood out as a firm that cared about creating the best training opportunities possible for their graduates. This was so vital as, as trainees, we should be seeking out the highest quality training through engaging, hands-on opportunities in a breadth of areas, which is very succinct with the Macfarlanes attitude towards training. Furthermore, as I continued to interact with the firm it was emphasised that they care about the relationships between all the different levels of staff and genuinely harbour a very close-knit and personal work environment.
How did you build your commercial awareness before the interview?
My journey with understanding and developing my commercial awareness started with reading the news and engaging as much as possible with recent developments in the business and legal sphere. Absorbing the information was the first step, and by far the easiest, the next step was connecting with this information. If I read about a recent acquisition, it was understanding the legal steps that took place in order to complete the transaction as well as trying to understand why the acquisition took place. This meant asking myself why it was beneficial, what did the acquiring company have to gain, and trying to understand the strategy behind the decision. I think commercial awareness is about developing a business mindset, so I always try to understand the 'why' to the commercial news stories that I read. On top of this, incorporating podcasts like 'More From Law' into my routine normalised legal and business jargon whilst making for thought-provoking content.
What would be your top tip to members going through the application process?
My biggest tip would be to get comfortable with rejection. For most students, the application process — a process that we pour a lot of time and effort into whilst focusing on school and extracurriculars — is a brutal process where rejection is somewhat inevitable. So, get comfortable viewing a rejected application or interview as an opportunity to grow. This means asking for feedback whenever you can to help you improve for the future and learning to take a step back from the process and relying on positive stress management and coping activities. My next biggest tip would be to use the tools you have to make connections and ask for advice. LinkedIn was a fantastic tool when I was going through the application process, I would reach out to students who had successfully gotten training contracts and would ask for their tips and advice. Doing this shows initiative and can make the process feel a lot less isolating.
How did Bright Network help you secure this role?
The very first time I interacted with Macfarlanes was at the 2019 Bright Network First Year Lawyers Top 100 conference. I genuinely remember leaving the conference hall after doing the rotations with all the present firms, thinking that Macfarlanes had this welcoming but prestigious and unique reputation that I could very much see myself fitting into. The Bright Network was a fundamental part in exposing me to the city firms that I ended up applying to for first-year schemes and vacations schemes. This exposure opened my eyes to firms that I could see myself working at and allowed me to get answers to some key questions that were important to me. Secondly, I took part in the commercial law scheme last year where I was able to learn more about the day-to-day tasks of being a solicitor which provided me with clear and strong examples for why I want to pursue law — something that was extremely helpful during my interviews.
What’s been the toughest interview question you've faced and how did you tackle it?
I think the toughest question came as a bit of a twist as it was a hybrid between being resilient, facing a challenge and working in a group situation. Whilst I had ideas and situations in my head about answers to the three separate questions, I felt like I had to think on the spot to provide a strong example for them all together. I was able to talk about sitting on an exec board of a university team and how we had to redefine the parameters of exec roles whilst dealing with Covid. I addressed the concerns or problems we faced and acknowledged how I could have perhaps dealt with the situation better in retrospect but then talked about my thinking process and how I tried to lead the exec to navigate the situation. I went through the STAR method and enjoyed talking about my thinking process which showcased how I dealt with situations far more effectively than simply narrating the events.
What top three tips would you give Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
- Make connections! Whether that be with other law students, trainees, professors, or mentors. This process can be very isolating so find people who can cheer you on and help support you through your successes and failures.
- Interact with as many firms as you can! I believe that there is a firm for everyone, each firm has a unique environment, style and culture and the only way to discover which firm is right for you is to attend open days, campus visits and interact with the firm and its staff!
- Do not compare yourself! Going through this process really confirmed that comparison is the thief of joy. Each student, regardless of age, education, or background is going through their own experiences and challenges so focus on yourself and your own goals.
If you're interested in finding more about Macfarlanes click here.