Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Philosophy degree last year, in 2018. For the past year, I’ve been working in an administrative role while I focused on securing a training contract.
What inspired you to apply to Baker McKenzie?
As well as its reputation for being a prestigious global law firm, I was attracted to the firm’s exceptional work in D&I and CSR. Baker McKenzie has a real emphasis on creating a diverse, inclusive workforce and the firm is ranked in the top 10 of organisations nationally for social mobility, which is an outstanding achievement. I’m personally very passionate about diversity and at university I got involved with a couple of social mobility initiatives, so I felt Baker McKenzie was a good cultural fit for me.
What was a ‘normal’ day like on the scheme?
There was so much variety every day! Most days there would be a presentation to go to, where the vacation schemers would hear a talk from a partner or learn about the firm’s different departments. When I wasn’t at these events, I’d sit in my department and experience the sort of work fee-earners did at the firm. People in the department really made an effort to bring me along to training sessions and client calls, which was great. In the evening, we’d go along to a social organised by graduate recruitment, like painting or Flight Club.
What was the application process like? What was the hardest part? What did you enjoy the most?
The application process involves an application form, a Watson-Glaser test, a video interview and an assessment centre. The video interview was definitely the hardest part; it can feel very unnatural talking at a screen, so it took a lot of practice!
After the video interview came the assessment centre. Before the assessment centre, graduate recruitment called to talk me through what the day involves and what they’re looking for. I hadn’t experienced a law firm calling me before an assessment centre before, and I thought it was really nice; it felt like the firm wanted me to do well and it put me at ease. The assessment day itself involved a group exercise, a competency interview, a case study interview and lunch with the trainees.
My favourite part was the case study interview – it was challenging, but enjoyable. Though most of the interview was focused on the case study, the partners also asked me questions about myself and were interested in getting to know me as a person. I had a really good chat with them and actually met with them again for a coffee on my vacation scheme.
What is the company culture like at Baker McKenzie?
It sounds a bit cliché, but Baker McKenzie stood out to me for having a real open-door culture. Everyone is happy to sit down and have a chat with you, even if they’re really busy. For instance, I wanted to find out more about the firm’s social mobility network, BakerOpportunity, so I sent an email to the senior partner in charge of the network. The partner replied immediately suggesting a time for us to go for coffee.
I think the firm’s focus on inclusion is also reflected in its culture. Starting an internship can be really nerve-wracking, but everyone was so welcoming and friendly. My departments made a real effort to involve me by inviting me to team meetings and department socials. I quickly felt like part of the team!
Has Bright Network helped you on your career journey? If so, how?
Bright Network helped me enormously with my commercial awareness. I attended Bright Network Festival last year where I went to a talk on improving commercial awareness. The talk was great; the speaker gave lots of practical tips on how to improve commercial awareness and pointed me to some extremely useful resources. Bright Network also sends out regular email updates on notable business stories, and these helped keep me up-to-date on current affairs.
Finally, any tips for anyone who’d like to apply for a similar role at Baker McKenzie?
This is an obvious one, but make sure you research the firm thoroughly when you apply! There are lots of exciting developments going on at the firm right now – for instance, the firm is ramping up its transactional practices as part of its strategy next year - so it’s great if you can talk about this in an application.
As I mentioned before, Baker McKenzie really cares about CSR and D&I so consider getting involved in pro bono or diversity initiatives at university if you haven’t already.