Anne-Marie is a trainee solicitor at DWF and is currently undertaking a secondment at Adidas. She is a former ComAware contributor and studied law at Newcastle University.
1. Tell us about your route into DWF?
I first applied to DWF for a direct Training Contract in 2018 and was unsuccessful at the Video Interview stage. Whilst this was disheartening, I’d done a lot of research into the firm and knew that it was somewhere I wanted to end up at. I liked the idea of being at an innovative and forward-thinking firm that stands out from the crowd, but also one that provides a supportive and encouraging atmosphere.
I then applied in 2019 for the Summer Vacation Scheme and was fortunate enough to be selected. This ended up going ahead virtually and DWF did a brilliant job in supporting us, setting us up on Teams and connecting us with current trainees.
I then found out at the end of the Vacation Scheme that I had been successful in securing my Training Contract, with an 18-month Secondment to adidas!
2. How do you think you made yourself stand out from the crowd during the application process?
I tried to ensure that my personality came through during the process. Big firms already know that their candidates will have good grades and stand out academically, so I wanted to ensure the recruiters saw my individuality. I tried to come across as someone who was personable and could engage in non-legal conversations because at the end of the day, your employers and fellow colleagues have to sit next to you for 2 years!
I think something that helped me succeed was that I always related things I said back to the firm. So if I said ‘I worked in a bar for 3 years during my studies’, I would link this back to my application by saying ‘this role cultivated my communication and time management skills, which are two key abilities required of a DWF trainee’.
3. What have you found most enjoyable about your secondment?
I have been extremely lucky, as my set-up is slightly different to usual secondments. I will be at adidas for 18-months of my Training Contract!
Within my first 3 months, I have had the chance to work with national football federations, Premier League football teams/players and famous athletes. I also get to see a variety of work, assisting in store openings, competitions, events and football Club deals! I would be fairly confident in saying that I am doing one of the coolest legal roles around. I get given a lot of responsibility in my role, because we’re a smaller team and I really feel like a valuable part of a well functioning machine.
The brilliant thing about adidas is that we are in a small team, where everyone looks out for eachother. My supervisor and other members of the team were brilliant in introducing me to key stakeholders within the business and making me feel settled. We’re a close group and we have a staff bake-off and we go for a drink after work (within COVID guidelines). You may not get the chance to do this with Senior Legal counsel, Directors and General Counsel in much larger private practice firms.
4. Talk us through your typical day
I get into the office around 9am and I check through my emails. I’m subscribed to Lexology and Practical Law updates so I read through these and check if any are relevant to the business.
I then grab a coffee with my supervisor and we go over matters that I have on that day. He then steers me in the right direction and I get on with my tasks for the day.
We always have lunch as a team (you’re even discouraged from eating at your desk!), or you have the option of using one of two (!!!) gyms and gym classes.
Our afternoon may then consist anything from team catch-ups, meetings with key stakeholders, calls with football clubs, or training.
I then will sometimes head to the gym which is on the top floor of the office, or there is a FitBox with state of the art fitness equipment open to employees. The office is generally empty by 6pm and the work/life balance is excellent!
5. What are the main challenges facing the fashion industry?
Even before COVID-19 hit, the highstreet was seeing a quick decline, with more people opting to shop online. COVID obviously expediated this process, so brands will have to quickly adapt to online sales, or risk dying with the highstreet.
The public are also more conscious of where their products are coming from and how they are sourced. Brands should be aware of their responsibilities in reducing their carbon footprint, and ensure that they’re committed to fair practices within their factories.
Finally, brands need to ensure that they foster an inclusive culture, both within their workforce and when engaging consumers. Companies should be proactive advocates of diversity and inclusion. This means increasing transparency ensuring all voices are heard. Fashion brands should want to appeal to everyone equally and should embrace different cultures and experiences to provide a better customer experience.
6. What are your top tips for prospective applicants?
Remain focused on your goals. I wasn’t successful in my first application to DWF but I’m so glad I stuck at it! Don’t let rejection dishearten you, we all receive our fair share of it – and I haven’t yet met a trainee who hasn’t experienced rejection.
Try and always tailor your application to the firm and say why the skills that you have will be useful as a trainee at that firm.
Try and meet and engage with as many people in the industry as possible, whether it’s connecting with trainees on LinkedIn, going to insight evenings or following firms on Instagram. Then write down what you took away from your experience so that when it comes to an application, you have all the information in one place!
7. If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?
A box of Jordans Granola, because I pretend to be healthy when I am not!
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