We caught up with Joshua to find out how he secured his exciting summer vacation scheme at RPC and how this experience has prepared him for his future training contract with the firm. Joshua also shares his favourite aspects of this vacation scheme, as well as some top tips for how to make a good first impression at assessment centres.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to where you are now
I recently graduated from the University of Warwick with a BA (Hons) degree in History. I actually missed out on the grades needed for a law degree by two or three marks, but Warwick offered me a place on their history course instead. Although I had reservations about pursuing a legal career without undertaking a degree in law, I discovered that there is a large subsection of people in the industry who didn’t actually study law. The fact that I've been offered a training contract shows that there isn’t one single "correct" path to success in the industry.
What stood out about RPC?
During my research, I noticed that RPC had a great social media presence. They ran a campaign called ‘Strikingly Real', which was based around the idea that at RPC you can always bring your real self to their working environment. As an ethnic minority, it was really nice to see that RPC prided itself on people bringing their true authentic self to work. This element of their culture combined with their focus on litigation – a key career interest of mine – meant that RPC soon became the front runners in my research.
Describe the culture at RPC
From my experience at the firm's virtual assessment centre, I gaged that RPC seemed very invested in providing honest, unique insights about the life in a law firm. During the summer vacation scheme, which was entirely virtual, it was clear that they wanted to provide us with necessary resources to help us become the best versions of ourselves and I think that is a testament to the success of the firm. During the summer vacation scheme, my supervisor was incredibly patient and nurturing with me. It’s clear from their meritocratic environment that they really do look after their own. One session that struck me was their diversity and inclusion workshop which demonstrated RPC’s commitment to social progression. It’s a very modern and inclusive firm to work for.
How did you find conducting this internship whilst working remotely?
It was very interesting, but I can’t deny that it was hard work. Although I had a large workload of tasks assigned to me over four days, I received considerate support from my assigned supervisor through regular Zoom calls. In terms of the nature of the work, I was reading through different statute and case law. It was a different experience to my history degree, but I could see how the skills overlapped such as the analytical reading and drawing out key arguments. It showed that your university degree is more about your skill set, rather than the content you learn. The firm made sure we could learn as much as possible despite working remotely, such as through speed networking on Zoom with people from all of the different sectors in the firm. These unique insights were incredibly helpful, as it showed that the firm could appeal to a variety of interests.
Law can be a very competitive industry. What are your top tips for the application process?
- When answering questions, try to think outside the box with your commercial responses. As relevant as both Brexit and COVID-19 are, you can be guaranteed that hundreds of other applicants will mention these issues. Try to find a commercial story which you can link to the sectors your firm operates in and the clients they serve. A good example would be the fact that I focused on the future of Third-Party Litigation Funding at my assessment centre interview as I was aware that litigation was a key part of RPC's makeup.
- Your body language and facial expressions are more important than you would realise. Avoid slouching and if you get a hard question that you weren’t prepared for, don’t let your body language or facial expression show it. If you’re “umming” and “ahhing” in an interview, a firm might feel that you lack the confidence to represent them in front of clients.
- Lastly, just have faith In your ability that the firm which is the right personality fit for you will eventually land. As hard as rejections can be to take, learn from the process and just see It as your talents being better suited elsewhere.