We spoke to Bright Network member Joe, who recently secured a Training Contract with Herbert Smith Freehills. Joe gives us an insight into the application process (find out what surprised him the most) and offers three top tips to others thinking of applying.
Why did you choose this firm and this role?
I have always wanted to be a city solicitor because commercial law is so fast paced and intertwined with current affairs. I think the prospect of working on a big international deal that makes the news is really exciting.
I chose Herbert Smith Freehills for a number of reasons. To name but a few, firstly, it sends 90% of trainees on secondment, and I really want to spend a seat of my training contract abroad. Secondly, I think it is a perfect balance of a firm that has an outstanding reputation and top quality work, but doesn't have the negative work culture and hierarchy that other firms have - everyone I spoke to from the firm was really nice. Finally, its trainee retention rates are excellent. I want to be at a firm that I can see myself being a partner down the line.
What was the toughest part of the application process? And your favourite part?
The toughest part in the application process was probably the group exercise in the assessment day. I was with other applicants who were really nice, and it is difficult to perform naturally when you know you are in competition with the people you are working with.
My favourite part of the application process was the interviews I had with the partners. There's nothing quite like having a discussion with somebody who is absolutely at the top of their field. I had a conversation with one partner about Brexit. It was really interesting to hear his views.
Were you surprised by anything in the process?
Herbert Smith Freehills have an unusual application process. Apart from the CV/work experience bit, they ask one major question on the application form, 'what are you proud of and why?'. This is in complete contrast to most of the other firms, who ask questions like 'why law', 'why our firm' and 'talk about a recent news story'.
What three top tips would you give your fellow Bright Network members?
- Know your application inside out. If you have a weakness on there, they will ask about it.
- Practice speaking with confidence before the assessment day.
- Speak to lawyers from the firm before you apply. They will tell you things that aren't on the website/graduate recruitment brochure.
What's your lucky charm or pre-interview ritual?
Have a substantial breakfast beforehand!