We welcomed 100 of our brightest first year law students to connect with ten top law firms on Monday 18th September in the City of London.
After a chance to warm up and get to know each other, the students heard advice from two of our Bright Network Alumni on how they secured a role in law. Eloise Skinner is a newly qualified solicitor at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, while Sam Unsworth is a future trainee at Skadden Arps.
A panel of partners from law firms Clyde & Co, Macfarlanes, Pinsent Masons, Slaughter and May, Travers Smith and White & Case talked the students through what they should expect from a career in commercial law.
Attendees then moved to two hours of structured networking, where they were able to meet representatives from all of our partner firms: Ashurst, Clifford Chance, Clyde & Co, Macfarlanes, Norton Rose Fulbright, Pinsent Masons, Slaughter and May, Taylor Wessing, Travers Smith and White & Case.
What do you love about the job? The blend of work - as a lawyer on the transactional side, you have the cut and thrust of doing deals, you need to be creative and solutions-oriented and the work is tangible. On the contentious side, you’re working on the edge of the law - it needs subtle interpretation and there’s a real skill to helping clients negotiate that. Working out what the legal and strategic issues are, while being close to the clients - they’re smart individuals.
How do I get ahead while at university? Have a good time and say yes to as much as possible. Don’t think too prescriptively about what you should do. Be creative about work experience, think outside the box. Start developing your networking skills because in your cohort there will be people you’ll come across later in your career. Think about whether law is definitely what you want to do - it’s hard work and there are long hours, so you need to make a conscious decision to do it rather than just falling into it.
How should I kickstart my law career? Go to open days and milk round presentations. The more time you spend with the people in the firms, the more you’ll understand which firms are right for you. Make a list of the law firms you think might be interesting and start collecting information on them, including anecdotal comments. Do a timeline map of what you need to do when. Start having a working draft of your CV and if you do something interesting, jot it down.
What stands out at interview? People who engage - go into the interview thinking that it is the only firm for you. Don’t focus solely on law, we will have to sit with you every day and would probably rather talk about the weekend’s football scores on a Monday morning. Law is assumed, not what we talk about day to day. Use examples because it makes you come across as credible. It’s obvious if you don’t have them.
The day finished with the Bright Network Awards ceremony, where the firms chose to reward Bright Network members who had already achieved excellence in different areas. These students were awarded prizes by some of the world’s leading law firms, so they will clearly go far.