We caught up with Philipp to discuss the unique insights he has gained undertaking a vacation scheme at Gowling WLG. Philipp shares what he has learnt whilst working for the firm and outlines some top tips for the application process.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a University of Birmingham Law graduate with an LPC MSc in Law, Business and Management from the University of Law. I have developed my legal and sectoral experience having worked in a Paralegal role for over 2 years, undertaken a month-long internship at a law firm in Shanghai, as well as work placements at three tech companies in London. I have a keen interest in health, fitness and nutrition and tend to use my spare time playing sports, going to the gym, hiking and cooking.
What stood out to you about Gowling WLG?
I heard a lot of positive remarks about Gowling WLG at law fairs and talks hosted by Gowling employees during my studies at the University of Birmingham. Gowling WLG stood out to me as the firm has established a strong, reputable market position in the Midlands stemming from its roots in the 19th century as well as a significant international presence bolstered by the merger with Canadian firm Gowling. Gowling’s commitment to localism as well as its international breadth and impressive client portfolio attracted me to the firm.
Gowling’s application process is also unique, which is indicative of the firm’s ingenuity. I was impressed by its collaboration with Arctic Shores to test applicants’ behaviours and suitability to the firm through the use of a mobile app which made the process less stressful and more fun. Another distinctive feature of the application process was that it required applicants to answer a single commercially focused question on how Gowling could assist a prospective client. I found that this was a more pragmatic and thought-provoking alternative to the more generic questions usually asked in application forms.
What is the culture like at the firm?
The culture at the firm is inclusive and colleagues of all levels of seniority are approachable which is key to self-development and building relationships. The culture is also aligned with the needs of the modern workforce and supports flexibility, agile working and a healthy work/life balance whilst also maintaining the professionalism and diligence required of an international law firm. Different departments also frequently arrange socials and there are many charitable causes to get involved in.
What was your favourite aspect of your time during the vacation scheme at Gowling WLG?
It is difficult to identify a favourite moment as the entire two weeks was varied and engaging. As I worked in the corporate department, it was particularly insightful to be involved in and understand the different stages and the overall structure of a corporate transaction. The team’s rounders social followed by a BBQ and drinks was another highlight as it was a great way to get to know all of the colleagues outside of a working environment.
What are your top tips to members going through the application process?
My first tip is for applicants to be honest and to express their true personality both during the psychometric test (using the mobile gaming app) and, if successful, during the vacation scheme and assessment centre itself. It will ultimately benefit an applicant if their suitability to the firm is determined at an early stage.
Secondly, I would like to emphasise the importance of being commercially aware and cognizant of current affairs. The application process, including the assessment centre, has a significant practical/commercial element to it. I would advise applicants to read and understand the characteristics of the major sectors that Gowling have expertise in and keep up to date with any developments. When doing so, always consider how Gowling could assist clients to mitigate risks and exploit opportunities in those sectors – don’t just consider the issues in isolation.
What essential piece of advice have you learnt whilst working at Gowling WLG?
The importance of using initiative in the workplace. In a busy and challenging working environment, using one’s initiative when, for example, attempting a piece of difficult work or organising an event looks impressive and is a vital attribute for an aspiring lawyer. It also aids self-development as it enables me to improve and learn from my mistakes quicker.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I would like to end with a few words of encouragement and stress the importance of not losing hope with applications in the prevailing social and economic circumstances. Although it may not appear as such, there is a benefit to every application made even if it is unsuccessful. It was my persistence and ability to bounce back from many failed applications which ultimately led me to secure a TC at Gowling.