Hear from Teresa, as she explains about how being a Bright Network member helped her secure a role at Watson Farley and Williams (WFW). She also gives some great advice for when you’re applying to the firm and how to build up your ever-important commercial awareness.
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Teresa, I am currently studying the LPC in London and I am a future trainee at Watson Farley & Williams. I recently graduated from Newcastle University where I studied Law with an exchange to Hong Kong University in my third year. I did the vacation scheme at WFW in June 2019.
What stood out to you about WFW?
Narrowing down what to look for in a law firm is incredibly hard! I focused on 3 main things; training, the culture of a firm, and sectors that they work in.
Initially, the training at WFW was definitely a big draw for me. Six seat rotations instead of the traditional four meant that I would have a lot more opportunity to explore different departments, the chance to learn from more people, and potentially do more secondments as well. The secondment opportunity is really second to none! We have to go on at least one international seat, with the chance to do two or three seats abroad. This was a huge draw for me, I wanted a firm that didn’t just have international work coming in, but actually offered their trainees the chance to go abroad.
I also looked at intake sizes and retention rates. I wanted to be in a medium-sized cohort; not too big that you feel like a cog in the machine, and not too small that you have no other trainees to bond with! Retention rate as well is definitely something to keep an eye out for, in an ideal world I’d like to keep working for the firm after my TC and WFW’s high retention rates stood out compared to other firms. I think this will also prevent the TC from feeling very competitive because there are enough jobs for us all at the end of it. This cooperative and friendly environment was especially evident during the vacation scheme and is something I believe will be vital for my own development on the TC.
Finally, WFW is a sector-focused firm (transport, energy and real estate). What I liked about this was that all the work is by nature going to be international and these are vitally important and changing sectors as well. The idea of becoming an industry expert/specialist in the future was a big draw!
How did Bright Network help you secure this role?
Bright Network is full of so many useful resources for all stages of the application process. I used the website early on to research firms, and reading through success stories helped me narrow down the important things to look for in a law firm. Throughout the application process there are many different assessments and hoops to jump through to get to the final interview, and the careers advice page on Bright Network was incredibly helpful for each of these steps; aptitude tests, phone interviews, assessment centres etc.
How did you build your commercial awareness before the interview?
I signed up for commercial awareness emails from Bright Network, which was very useful at the start to understand things rather than jumping straight to the FT. It can be overwhelming at first, I had no idea what I was reading, but start with a few easy-to-understand resources and build from there. I also had email alerts from Bloomberg, FT (you get these for free as a student!), BBC etc. for all the big news stories I had to be aware of.
My favourite resource was The Economist, I read that weekly and by picking out certain stories to read I started to realise I had an interest in the energy sector! So, pre-interview I had already been reading up on the firm’s sectors for a while which was a massive help. Commercial awareness is not something you can cram just before the interview, if you start staying up to date with business news early on, it will help your applications, your interviews, and any vacation schemes you do.
What has been the toughest interview question you faced?
The TC interview with WFW was actually a really pleasant experience, they were not trying to trip me up at all and it felt like a conversation! That being said, I think the toughest question was the first one: “Tell us about how you came to be sat before us today”.
What top three tips would you give Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
1. Before you submit your application, take out the firm’s name and read it through. If it isn’t clear which firm you’re applying to, then it is not specific enough to that firm. I read this when I was applying and it was so helpful! It is very easy to end up reproducing similar applications but this should help.
2. I created a table that was very useful when applying, and for interviews. Five columns: (1) competency, (2) an example, (3) skills it shows you have, (4) what you learnt from the experience, (5) applicability to the firm. I went through and filled this out for things like teamwork, communication etc. I found it really helpful to visualise how to talk about competencies in applications/interviews in a way that shows the skills you learnt and how to link it back to the firm. And remember this can be ANY example, most of mine were not law-related!
3. Bright Network is a great online resource, but nothing beats meeting the people from firms in real life and networking with other people you meet at events - you really learn so much! If you can, attend the events put on by Bright Network or your University, go prepared with questions, and enjoy!