We caught up with Francis after he landed an impressive vacation scheme with Clyde & Co to uncover why he chose the prestigious law firm, what he found most challenging and the tips he would give Bright Network members looking to follow in his footsteps.
Why did you choose Clyde and Co?
As well as its reputation as a genuinely global law firm with an international outlook, I chose Clyde & Co largely because of its reputation in litigation and dispute resolution. When researching the firm and speaking to its representatives, I quickly saw that it aligned with what I wanted to experience at a commercial law firm in terms of the sectors that it has an exceptional reputation in. I had not undertaken any work experience in commercial law before, and thought that Clyde & Co would be a great place to start because its sectors align with my personal interests. Clyde & Co also has a real emphasis on creating a supportive, collaborative culture at the firm which made it seem like somewhere that I would like to work in the future.
How did you find the application process? Were there any bits you particularly enjoyed? Or found challenging?
The process began with an online application form which contained some of the usual questions that you have often have to answer in commercial law. There was a more challenging section which asked me to write about a story in the business press which had interested me recently, and how it linked to the firm. Initially this seemed daunting and it was different to any question that I had had to answer before, but I ended up enjoying this section as it allowed me to talk about something I am enthusiastic about. I therefore chose renewable energy and climate change and linked this to the firm's energy and natural resources department.
After the application came a telephone interview. Although I didn't expect to, I genuinely enjoyed this as I felt like I got on well with the interviewer. It lasted about forty-five minutes and was largely based around competency questions.
What three tips would you give to Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
1. Go to all the events you can - your applications look much stronger if you can draw tangible links to the firm in terms of any interaction you've had with them. Take advantage of the opportunities at your law society and anything else you can find, such as the events provided by Bright Network.
2. Pick firms which align with your values and makes sure to emphasise this at every stage of your application. Firms aren't just looking for somebody who would make a good solicitor, but also want somebody who would be a good fit in their company. So research the firm thoroughly and apply for firms which you believe align with who you are and what you want in your career.
3. Before your interview, prepare for a variety of competency questions. You cannot prepare answers for every competency question that could possibly come up, so the best way to prepare is to make a list of activities/achievements that you have done up until now and think about how you can draw on each one to illustrate particular qualities.
How did Bright Network help?
Bright Network provided me with my first exposure both to commercial law and to Clyde & Co specifically! I attended the Top 100 First Year Lawyers event just before I started at university, and it was this event which informed me that I wanted to pursue commercial law. I was also able to network with trainees and graduate recruitment members from Clyde & Co at the event, which I ended up mentioning in my interview for the firm.
And finally, what was the toughest interview question you faced?
I was asked some quite specific competency questions such as being asked to talk about a time when a problem had arisen in a team-based activity, and what I had done to overcome this.