We caught up with Max, who recently completed Jones Day’s Vacation Scheme and will soon be starting on their Training Contract. Here, he opened up about his unique journey to Jones Day, his experience on the Vacation Scheme and his top tips for future applicants.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I grew up in a small seaside village in South East England. The legal profession wasn't really something which was attainable for someone with my background as my parents weren't academic types. But I decided to study law with a year abroad at the University of Essex and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. My year abroad was fantastic; I studied at the Washington College of Law in the United States and also at the University of Vienna in Austria. After I completed my undergraduate degree, I moved to the University of Manchester to undertake a master’s degree in International Business and Commercial Law. As we speak, I’m working as a corporate finance paralegal at a boutique real estate firm in the West End.
What inspired you to apply to Jones Day?
Funnily enough, my initial contact with Jones Day began during my year abroad in Washington D.C. I had a professor teaching US Corporate Law who was previously an equity partner at Jones Day and that was my first introduction to the firm. He was a very influential person during this time because that also marked the period that I decided to specialise in corporate practice. When I came back to the UK, Jones Day ran an event called Question Time at the University of Manchester. This is where I discovered the concept of the non-rotational training system. It wasn't something I'd seen at other firms, and it really captured my interest because I am someone who enjoys the prospect of learning on the job.
What was the application process like for the Vacation Scheme?
The application process for Jones Day is very simple and very traditional. The application form only requires a short cover letter of 300 words, where you explain how Jones Day would be a good fit for you. It’s a very straightforward and effective way of hiring because there's no aptitude tests, there's no telephone interviews or other impersonal sifting mechanisms - it focuses purely on the human element of the hiring process, which emphasises an individual’s potential and personality, rather than simply past performances.
What was it like completing a Vacation Scheme virtually?
Leading up to it I was quite dubious about how the virtual scheme would work in practice. You wonder how you could possibly experience the culture of a law firm when you're sitting at home. How could you collaborate with others from your living room? How could you decide about joining a firm if you haven't experienced anything in-person? But as soon as it began, I became so immersed in the entire experience. The graduate recruitment team organised the week in fine detail; they kept us highly involved with meetings, coffee breaks, virtual socials, and opportunities to speak with trainees, associates and partners. There's so much going on that you don't have time to realise you're still at home!
What is your first impression of the culture at Jones Day?
My very first impression of the Jones Day culture came from my vacation scheme interview. Jones Day have beautiful offices in Tudor Street. When you enter the atrium for the first time, it’s a very impressionable experience – a large contemporary open space entrance with an elliptical staircase and glass panels – you can’t help feeling that you're in a special place. On the day of the interview, you are greeted by a trainee and given a short tour of the building, including the restaurant and gym, before visiting their office. I personally felt like having a trainee greet you and give you the tour of the office shows how the firm places a great emphasis on the more junior members of the team.
What excites you the most about starting your Training Contract?
It’s seeing the people again! Everyone I met during the scheme was really friendly and intelligent and I think having the opportunity to work side by side with them on a daily basis is the number one thing that I'm looking forward to. You can learn so much from them!
Finally, any tips for anyone who’d like to apply for a role at Jones Day?
It's a very cliché statement, but for me it’s to be yourself. The more interviews that you go through, the more comfortable you get with the application process. You realise how important it is to be yourself as this is what the firms really want to see. Jones Day is looking for well-rounded people – so you should be interested in law, but also have other ambitions too. For me, that was crucial in both the interview process and the vacation scheme at Jones Day. I remember in my first interview we had quite a long discussion about my interests in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and it came up again in the second interview, so clearly it’s something partners want to talk to you about.