Rosie is future trainee solicitor at Herbert Smith Freehills. She is also the founder of the career help blog applyshinewin.com . Head there for more tips on how to secure a training contact!
(All wildcard questions are questions that candidates have been asked in real interviews!)
1. Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m from York but I studied History at Queen’s University, in Belfast. I’ve recently moved back to York to complete the Graduate Diploma in Law. While studying I set up a blog, Apply.Shine.Win, all about how to get a training contract. Next year I’ll be doing my LPC in London and then starting as a Trainee at Herbert Smith Freehills in September.
2. Why did you choose to apply to Herbert Smith Freehills?
The firm has always been on my radar. I had a career mentor at university who worked at the firm, and he absolutely loved it. And we’re quite similar in personality and background, so I thought there was a good chance I would also enjoy working at HSF.
That’s what motivated me to find out more about the firm. And when I did I realised that it specialised in areas of law I was interested in, and had a great diversity initiative. Fortunately, I was accepted onto the vacation scheme, and had an amazing time. So I jumped at the chance to train with the firm.
3. What do you think helped you stand out from the crowd?
Having bright red hair and an upper-limb deficiency definitely helped!
But it’s all down to confidence. At open days, presentations and networking events, I was always sat in the front row, and asked the first questions. And I would make an effort to introduce myself to all the graduate recruiters.
I think you have to be your own cheerleader. Make sure you’re pushing yourself to go to law events and get comfortable talking to professionals about what they do. Ask lots of questions, show that you’re interested, and try and include this research in your application.
4. Tell us about a recent legal issue that you find interesting and why?
I think the most interesting thing that has happened lately is that Herbert Smith Freehills has committed to paying for gender reassignment surgery for its trans UK employees. This is such a fantastic move towards creating an inclusive and diverse culture at the firm.
I think the promotion of women and BAME individuals into leadership roles gets a lot of coverage -and rightly so! But it’s great to see that trans rights haven’t been left by the wayside.
I hope that HSF is the first of many firms to offer this to its employees.
5. What was the most challenging aspect of the GDL for you?
When studying my undergraduate degree, I got to pick my modules. And even within modules, I could specialise and focus on what I found interesting. I also got to write a lot of essays, which I loved doing. So I think the most challenging aspect of the GDL was staying motivated and powering through when I had little discretion over what I learned or how I learned it.
However, I have been fortunate in that all of my tutors have been really engaging and friendly, and excellent at their jobs.
6. What’s your number one tip for prospective applicants?
This is a really tough question as I have written a blog full of tips, so it’s hard to just pick one. But I think my number one tip is to remember to include in-depth firm research in all your applications.
When researching a firm, I would go so far as to read their annual reports and find interviews the CEO has given. Firms want to know why you have chosen to apply to them, and great research demonstrates this motivation. And firm research is particularly effective when you can link it to your achievements, experiences and interests.
It also shows the graduate recruiters that you care about your application enough to spend time researching the firm.
7. Wildcard: If a Hippo falls into a hole how would you get it out?
Hmm. Well. I’d first make sure that I wasn’t going to be liable for any destruction the hippo caused once I got it out of the hole. And that it doesn’t belong to anyone – worst comes to worst, I don’t want to be charged with criminal damage for injuring someone’s hippo.
All that being well, I think I’d put a hose into the hole. Water would fill up the hole, hippos float, and it’d be able to clamber out.
This would give me a lot of time to run away.