I have always believed in karma. I think that acquiring first-hand advice from a law student recruiter and not sharing it with my fellow City University LLB classmates would probably constitute as bad karma. Tammy Engelsman, law student recruiter for the renowned global law firm Allen & Overy, shared some invaluable advice and words of wisdom for us aspiring lawyers.
Law student recruiters are unique in the sense that they recruit students extremely early. Tammy is currently recruiting students to begin work in September 2014! It is definitely important to begin networking, applying for jobs and getting involved as soon as possible. When recruiting law students, Tammy explained that first and foremost, academic excellence is essential. She said that beyond simply having good grades, maintaining consistently good grades is of equal importance. Doing well in first year is just as important as doing well in later years.
Law student recruiters seek candidates with traits that most job recruiters would look for, such as leadership skills, the ability to work in a team, etc. However, Tammy explained that motivation and commitment to extra-curricular activities and/or work experience in a particular field that interests you is something that law student recruiters look for specifically. For example, if you are interested in litigation, getting involved in mooting would enhance your desirability as a candidate for a job. Participation in these types of activities not only demonstrates your commitment and compassion for your field of interest, it also reveals your ability to multitask and time-manage.
Allen & Overy is a growing elite global firm, most recently opening up a branch in Casablanca, and I was interested to know if international experience was necessary when applying to these larger global firms. Tammy explained that despite the fact that speaking another language and working abroad are traits that would definitely benefit a candidate, they are certainly not prerequisites for the job. She went on to describe the culture at Allen & Overy as incredibly welcoming and friendly.
The application process for Allen & Overy jobs begins online. If your online form is successful, you will be asked to attend an interview day, where you must participate in two interviews. The first interview is of a general nature, here you will be asked to discuss your resume, references, and interest in the job. The second interview is a case study where you are only given 30 minutes to prepare. Tammy maintained that candidates who excel in this process are the ones who are the most open and honest in their initial applications. It is important to remember that each law firm is different, just as every candidate is unique, your application should be catered specifically to the firm that you are applying to.
When I asked for tips about “what not to do”, she emphasised that the most disappointing applications to read were the generic ones that were clearly copied and pasted. As law students we have a lot on our plates, however it is never too early to begin networking and embark on the incredibly intimidating yet equally exciting process of applying for our future jobs as lawyers.
Mara Chadnick is in the first year of a Graduate Entry LLB at City.