A huge congratulations to Helin for securing her role at Macfarlanes. Here she explains how Bright Network introduced her to Macfarlanes at our Future 100 Lawyers event and gives some great tips to future applicants.
1. Why did you choose this firm and this role?
I trialled an array of practice areas throughout my work experiences, and spoke to representatives at careers fairs and networking events. I was fascinated by the interaction of the law with the dynamic global economic, political and regulatory environment. I was really interested in how, within the commercial legal sector, firms carefully analysed the impact of all this on various industries to help guide clients. This, alongside the complexity of the work and competitiveness of the sector inspired me to pursue a career in law and has provided me with the opportunity to constantly grow and develop throughout my career.
I initially encountered Macfarlanes at the Bright Network Top 100 Future Lawyers event, and was automatically attracted to the working environment of the firm. Macfarlanes takes a sophisticated approach to business, whilst maintaining an emphasis on kindness, respect and personal development. This, I found, was genuinely reflected in the approach of everyone I spoke to from the firm, and encouraged my application.
Furthermore, the opportunity to experience market-leading international private client work and multi-million-pound corporate transactions from industry leaders all in one training contract, provides a unique diversity of high-quality work within the sector. This, together with the small trainee intake relative to firm size, allows for the level of responsibility that I knew would help me flourish as a lawyer.
2. What was the most challenging part of the application process? And your favourite part?
The most challenging part of the application process was probably the assessment centre itself. Macfarlanes’s assessment process consists of merely an application form and an assessment centre. As a result of this, the firm employs four different activities which test you on every aspect, and it is very important to stay focused throughout. Having said this, the assessment centre was also my favourite part of the application process, because of how satisfying and engaging it was.
3. Were you surprised by anything in the process?
What surprised me the most was how much I actually enjoyed the process. Everyone was extremely welcoming and focused on helping you demonstrate your best qualities. There was a real sense of the representatives trying to get to know you. Whilst this did not necessarily surprise me, as it mirrored every other encounter I have had with representatives from Macfarlanes, it made the day extremely memorable.
4. What three top tips would you give your fellow Bright Network members?
First and foremost, be yourself. Ultimately, the firms you are applying to want to get to know you. It will also mean you are simply focusing on the task at hand, and will not have to worry about depicting a specific image of yourself in line with what you think the firm wants. Focus, instead, on staying motivated and engaging with every step of the process and showing the firm why you are the most suitable candidate. Do not underestimate the value of everything you have done or achieved.
Secondly, whilst everyone will tell you to do your research, this can sound very vague. To begin with, first hand contact with the firm is vital, because not only will it give you direct insight into the firm, but it also shows you are interested. However, don’t simply be a passive receptor of information. Try to think about its relevance. For example, Macfarlanes has a unique international strategy. Assess why this makes the firm distinct, and why it is important within the commercial legal sector. Take a similar approach to commercial awareness. Ask yourself why the issue is important, and its implications not only for the firm’s clients, but also the firm itself as a business. The Bright Network Commercial Awareness updates, as well as the more commentary-based articles on the FT, I found extremely valuable for this.
As for the assessment centre, as simple as it sounds, be kind. You are being assessed from the moment you step into the office. You should not view this as a competition, and in fact you will not only receive greater credits for treating your fellow prospective trainees as teammates, but this will also help you enjoy the day more. Again, even though in the group exercises your negotiation skills will be tested, it is important to remember that you are briefed as a team, and should have the team’s best interest in mind.
5. What was the hardest question you faced in the interview?
For me, the interview resembled more a conversation, and so I cannot remember any question which I particularly struggled with. What really helped me, and that I recommend to everyone, was thinking about a scenario for every competency-based question I may be asked, prior to the interview. Not only will this mean you are more prepared, but it will actually help boost your confidence.