We recently caught up with Huw Thomas, a future Middle East trainee at Allen & Overy, who is currently pursuing an LLM in International Commercial Law at Cardiff University.
Why did you choose this firm and this role?
My motivation to join Allen & Overy in the Middle East as a trainee was founded on the opportunity to work alongside and learn from some of the most experienced and successful lawyers in the profession in a dynamic and growing market.
As a world-class firm, I was attracted to Allen & Overy’s client-centred approach and ability to continuously deliver value to clients. Most importantly, I was motivated by the prospect of being involved in advising international and leading regional companies and organisations on some of the most significant transactions and projects in the region.
What were the different stages of the application process and how did you prepare?
The application process for the Summer Vacation Scheme and Training Contract at Allen & Overy was efficient and straightforward.
Initially, all applications must be completed using an online application form. If successful, the next stage in the application process comprises of a telephone interview with Graduate Recruitment, discussing your motivations and competencies for the role, awareness of commercial developments impacting the legal sphere and discussion regarding affiliation and dedication to a career in the region.
Successful candidates are then required to attend an Assessment Day in the Dubai office, comprising of an interview, case study and an Arabic language assessment if applicable.
Throughout the application process, I ensured that my preparation was thorough and complete. I guaranteed that I had identified the competencies being assessed and matched these with the best of my examples from relevant work experience and past vacation schemes. Further, I carried out extensive research into the firm, its regional and global practices and developed a greater understanding of the firm’s ability to continuously deliver added value to clients. Finally, I developed the ability to critically analyse commercial issues facing Allen & Overy and the wider legal profession, providing succinct and concise solutions to such issues.
What was the toughest part of the application process and what was your favourite part?
In my opinion, the most difficult aspect of the application process was the case study exercise, as it involved developing the ability to critically analyse vast amounts of information while under pressure and communicate succinct commercial advice when presenting to the panel. However, these competencies are attributes of any successful commercial lawyer and I found the exercise truly rewarding and thoroughly engaging.
A major highlight of the application process was the group client pitch which formed part of the Allen & Overy Dubai Vacation Scheme. This exercise required comprehensive teamwork, communication and analytical expertise, attributes of any Allen & Overy lawyer! Following a comprehensive pitch and Q&A session, the group received commendable feedback regarding our performance from a panel that consisted of Corporate Partner David Foster, Head of Business Development Kate Lillie and HR Officer Rebecca Ward. It is opportunities like these at Allen & Overy which are truly inspiring.
What three top tips would you give your fellow Bright Network members looking to pursue a career in law?
1. Do your research
Ensure that you possess the latest knowledge of the legal profession, the firm you are applying to, their competitors and applicable commercial issues and trends. Look beyond the firm’s website - Bright Network provides a wealth of information on Vacation Schemes, dates and deadlines for Training Contracts.
2. Be commercially aware
Develop the ability to identify, analyse and provide solutions to contemporary commercial issues facing the legal profession, firms and their clients. Do not be afraid to utilise bold examples such as the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the legal profession, forming an opinion as to how the firm can integrate AI into existing practices to increase efficiency, lower costs and provide added value to clients.
3. Identify competencies and provide evidence
Identify the competencies being assessed and match these with the best examples from your relevant experiences. Remember that all work experience is relevant. Possessing an interest or part-time role is an excellent way of demonstrating transferable skills. Regardless of the variety of your interests and experiences, firms will want to ensure that you are a well-rounded candidate with extensive time management capabilities.
What's your lucky charm or pre-interview ritual?
Prior to an interview, I always look to relax and not overdo preparation the night before. Moreover, I always re-read my written application and think about the evidence to be used to answer any competency-based questions.