Here’s Adeola – a Politics student at UCL who took part in Baker McKenzie’s Vacation Scheme and will be joining as a Trainee in 2021. She gave us her insight into what it’s like to work at the firm and how she found the application process…
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Hi, I’m Adeola, I studied a Politics undergraduate degree at UCL and will be graduating in September 2019. In my spare time, I love learning about different cultures by trying different cuisines and travelling. I also enjoy keeping active and attending boxing classes. I previously took part in the Baker McKenzie Vacation Scheme and will be joining them as a Trainee Solicitor in September 2021.
What inspired you to apply to Baker McKenzie?
I decided to apply to Baker McKenzie after interacting with the firm at a variety of events such as the UCL law fair in 2016 and also insight days hosted by social mobility organisations. This gave me the opportunity to meet different people from the firm. From this, I was able to learn about the Baker McKenzie, their clients and the work they do, which aligned with my personal interests so it seemed to be a good fit.
What was a ‘normal’ day like on the scheme?
During the vacation scheme, I completed seats in Employment and Intellectual Property. My day-to-day activities were quite similar in both departments. It usually started with a meeting with my trainee buddy, where we discussed how I was getting on and the type of work I was interested in doing. In Employment, I was fortunate to gain an insight into a broad range of the work the practice area does, such as transactional, advisory and contentious work. While working on the transactional side, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting where we were connected with lawyers from around the world which highlighted the international nature of the firm, a key factor that appealed to me.
The first half of the afternoon usually consisted of a networking lunch organised by the Graduate Recruitment team where we were able to meet trainees, representatives from departments across the firm and also a discussion with the management committee which was highly beneficial to understand the firm’s strategy. The second half of the afternoon was either returning to my department or attending a training session to develop crucial soft skills such as networking. I also arranged one-to-one meetings with a variety of people from the firm to learn about their experiences. I was also fortunate to attend the firm's Legal Advice Clinic in Bethnal Green. This was a great experience to gain direct client exposure and the Trainee that I was shadowing gave me the opportunity to support her with the case.
What was the application process like? What was the hardest part? What did you enjoy the most?
The application process for the Vacation Scheme was in line with the process of other similar firms, and the feedback that I received after the assessment centre and vacation scheme was very helpful for my personal development. For me, the hardest part of the process was writing the cover letter to ensure that my application stood out given how many candidates apply each year. To overcome this, I addressed the key points outlined by the Graduate Recruitment team at the networking events that I attended such as tailoring my application to the firm and also spelling and grammatic errors, they do sound minor but it makes a huge difference. I also found it easier to write the cover letter because I had met people from the firm first-hand and I was engaging with the work the firm was doing on social media and drawing it to the broader commercial climate.
The part of the assessment process that I enjoyed the most was probably the group exercise at the assessment centre. My group worked really well together and we had a great discussion about each other’s ideas despite the time pressure.
What is the company culture like at Baker McKenzie?
From my experience, there was a collaborative culture in the firm and this also filtered into how the vacation scheme students interacted with each other. For example, during the client pitch preparation, my team worked really well together. The firm also has an open and friendly culture which was evident at all levels within the firm as individuals were happy to meet to discuss their experience at the firm. I was also able to reconnect with some individuals that I previously met at events which was great!
Has Bright Network helped you on your career journey? If so, how?
One of the ways that Bright Network supported me on my career journey was the weekly commercial awareness updates. It was recommended to me by a friend who was also a member and actually formed the basis for one of the commercial cases I discussed during my vacation scheme and training contract interview. So, I would highly recommend candidates interested in a career in commercial law to subscribe to them!
Finally, any tips for anyone who’d like to apply for a similar role at Baker McKenzie?
My key tip would be for potential candidates to attend networking events organised by organisations such as Bright Network. These provide you with an excellent opportunity to learn about the firm and what distinguishes Baker McKenzie from the other firms to write a great cover letter. It also allows you to gauge whether the firm aligns with your career interests which is more difficult to get from strictly reading through the website. On the vacation scheme, do make the most of the opportunities available within your department and also outside such as the Legal Advice Clinic and support the PRIME workshops. This will provide you with a broader range of experience to draw on during the Training Contract interview.