We recently caught up with Isaac about securing his graduate role with Kennedy’s. He discusses why he chose Kennedys, how did he build up commercial awareness for his interview, and shares his top tips for members wanting to follow in his footsteps.
Why a role in Kennedys?
Initially, I was drawn to Kennedys because I wanted to work at an international firm with offices around the world. However, after doing my research, what really drew me in was its core values of being approachable, straightforward, supportive and distinctive, which stood out to me as the legal industry can be perceived as quite cut-throat. My desire to work at Kennedys was solidified when I did the vacation scheme and after meeting the employees I discovered that the core values weren’t simply buzzwords on their website but actually a means through which everyone approached work. I was also attracted to the fact that Kennedys are really big on innovation in the legal space, so I was excited to be given the opportunity to be involved in that.
How did you build your commercial awareness before the interview?
I have a genuine interest in the business world, and I think if you are intending to pursue a career in commercial law it is important to do so. Therefore, I would recommend trying to build your commercial awareness as soon as possible rather than trying to cram before an interview.
I would really recommend Radio 4’s ‘Best of Today’ business podcast. It is a ten-minute podcast which explains the day’s business news in an accessible way which is easy to understand. This can be listened to on the way to university or work etc. The Financial Times also has a similar podcast. Reading the financial section in a newspaper is also essential. Furthermore, specialised financial newspapers such as the FT can help really give you an in depth understanding of how the commercial world operates.
In terms of legal commercial awareness, the legal press such as the Lawyer is very good. They have articles which explore wider legal trends but also do specific features on firms. The podcast ‘Law in Action’ is also excellent for legal commercial awareness.
How did Bright Network help you secure this role?
Bright Network helped in a variety of ways. Firstly, it was a good initial resource to research Kennedys as the Bright Network contained a good feature on the firm. Similarly, the Bright Network jobs fair was very helpful as it was useful to network with similar minded people who had same goals as me. Finally, the explanatory articles (e.g. ‘what is private equity’) on the Bright Network website were very helpful as it helped me to understand concepts that I was previously unfamiliar with.
What top three tips would you give Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
Do not be put off by rejection: I, like most law graduates, sent out quite a few applications before I secured this role. It can be quiet disheartening at times especially when you work hard on an application for what you think is your ‘dream’ firm. My advice would be to try analysing where you went wrong and improve for next time. People forget that the average age of an NQ is 30 and put pressure on themselves to attain a training contract immediately. It is a process and everyone’s path is different!
Do your research: I know it is cliché, but it is important to thoroughly research the firm before applying. Firm’s websites contain a swathe of information which can help you decide if the firm is right for you, which is as important as them deciding if you are right for the firm. Good research can help you tailor your application which can make you stand out.
All work experience is relevant: Some people (I have also been guilty of this) tend to think that because their work experience isn’t necessarily in the legal industry it is not relevant to the application process. However, all types of work experience can help you build the skills needed to be a lawyer and all law firms appreciate those who have had life experiences.
What has been the toughest interview question you faced?
The toughest interview question I have faced was ‘tell me about a time you implemented feedback’. Although this doesn’t seem too hard on the surface, I did find competency questions quite daunting as it sometimes can be quite difficult to talk about yourself when you are conscious of the fact that you are trying to impress the interviewer. Fortunately, I had prepared a grid where I listed potential competency questions along with real life examples so I was able to answer the question without tripping up.