After hearing about the role through Bright Network and then attending our Future Lawyers Top 100 event, Zhao has secured a Training Contract at magic circle firm Linklaters. Having previously completed a vacation scheme at the firm, Zhao offers some great insight and advice for fellow Bright Network members.
Why did you choose this firm and this role?
Linklaters struck me as a firm which invests heavily in trainee and associate development. Having spent a vacation scheme there, I genuinely benefitted from their training programmes which open up for everyone, regardless of practice areas, as well as their regular deal debriefs which serve as a knowledge sharing platform for every Links' lawyers.
Besides, Links' strength across all practice areas also means that I will be able to get my hands on high-quality work consistently throughout the four seats of my training contract.
What was the toughest part of the application process? And your favourite part?
The toughest part of the process was probably to juggle between preparing for interviews as well as tutorials and seminars. Both materials are vastly different in nature and therefore sometimes it made me question the applicability of academic legal studies in my future career.
My favourite part was, without a shadow of a doubt, the partners' interview. As all would have known, an interview is a two-way process and I felt like they were genuinely interested to know me as a person and learn about my past experiences.
Were you surprised by anything in the process?
I was slightly thrown off by a question during the final interview - "tell me a time when you exercised your common sense."
What three top tips would you give your fellow Bright Network members?
1. Know yourself inside out.
Firms are interested to know you as a person, therefore during interviews you need to be able to sell yourself well. In order to do so, you ought to know yourself inside out - your past experiences, your future plans, your strengths and the values you can bring to the firm etc. I would recommend anyone to craft a story based on their CV in order to ace the standard question in every interview - "tell me about yourself."
2. Why the firm?
To stand out for this question, students need to go beyond merely citing the strengths of the firm. Ideally one should elaborate at length on how the specific strength of the firm complements his/her own aptitude or strong suit, or how it matches your personal career ambitions. The key is to incorporate your personal subjective element in this seemingly objective question. If you can go further and explain how you can contribute substantially to the firm's plans and ambitions, it will be a winner.
3. Commercial awareness
I realised that the interviewers generally do not expect you to have extensive knowledge on various commercial issues. Rather, they expect you to adopt a certain structure in analysing the commercial issue that you're given. Hence it's crucial that you ask for a 1-minute break (yes, its totally fine) to think through your answer and structure it logically and provide substantial justifications. The justification part is where you show off your commercial awareness, hence the tip is to incorporate materials that you have read extensively on, because chances are the interviewer will ask you follow-up question on that.
Another tip is to analyse the issue from the perspective of a law firm. It means going through every single practice area and think about how a law firm can help in these aspects - M&A, financing, tax, competition, employment, IP, financial regulations etc. By going through all these areas, you have probably given a well-rounded answer to the issue at hand.