After having attended Bright Network: Commercial Law 2014, Amelia will be starting a vacation scheme at Baker McKenzie this summer. We spoke to her about her experience of the application process and her advice for others making their vacation scheme applications.
Why did you choose Baker & Mackenzie?
I actually applied for a lot of firms in order to maximise my chances, but Baker McKenzie was the one I was happiest to receive an offer from. I had already done an insight day with them, and I really fell in love with the place. I even recognised one of the girls at my interview from that insight day, which was reassuring.
What was the application process like – what did you have to do?
The main part of the application was a long cover letter, which I preferred because it gives you more scope to shape it to your strengths and show off a bit, rather than being forced to answer particular questions.
On the assessment day, we had to go through three tasks. In the morning we had a group task, which I enjoyed. This was followed by lunch with the current trainees at the firm which was a great chance to ask questions. In the afternoon, there were two interviews; one was with an associate and focused on your application and the other was conducted by a partner and was focused on discussing a case study. I felt like I struggled with the case study, but was later told that I had in fact highlighted a lot of the issues that they were looking for.
What was the hardest part of the application process?
For me it was actually right at the beginning, possibly applying to too many firms. I like to focus a lot on my studies, so I struggled having to devote so much time to perfecting each of my applications; they are quite long and detailed. Bear in mind that if you apply to a lot of firms to maximise your chances, you might risk making each of those applications weaker because your focus is diluted.
If you apply to a lot of firms to maximise your chances, you might risk making each of those applications weaker because your focus is diluted.
Which part of the application did you enjoy the most?
I really enjoyed my associate interview, discussing my application. I decided I wanted to be a lawyer very early on (aged 12…) so I have had a lot of time to build a CV that I am proud of and fill it with lots of legal work experience and extracurricular activities. I was surprised, however, that the interviewer chose to pick out my time as a steward at Reading festival but it felt nice that they took an interest in me as a human being.
What three tips would you give to someone hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Be yourself – be honest in your application and in your interview. You can speak much more convincingly when you’re speaking the truth, and they want to know that you are a person as well as a set of skills.
Try and have a balance of law and non-law activities and experience on your CV. You can acquire plenty of skills and experience outside of the legal sphere and it is really good to develop as many areas of yourself as possible.
Be prepared for your interview – really know what you want to do and why you want to do it. If you can show them you really want this role for the right reasons, then they are much more likely to take you on.