In February I secured a vacation scheme at Mishcon de Reya. I received the news with a lot of surprise, some tears and with very shaky hands clutching the phone. After the news had sunk in, and I had reflected on the five-month journey to getting a spot for summer 2018 I was asked by Bright Network to write up my experience, as I had first met Mishcon at one of their events. I applied for, and then attended, “The Future Lawyers Top 100” event held in September 2017. This event connects 100 law students with representatives from 12 of the most prestigious commercial law firms, and is something I would highly recommend applying for if you would like to spend the day with representatives from a selection of top firms.
I spent a while writing up my answers to the questions, and it was soon published on their website. However, I have since realised that it is only accessible to members of Bright Network, therefore limiting the number of people who can be reached. While the below is by no means that enlightening, I thought it may be of use re-posted here to a wider readership.
Why did you choose this firm and this role?
The Future Lawyers Top 100 event was my first brush with Mishcon de Reya and gave me the opportunity to speak to trainees and one of their Recruiting Partners. I found their approach to hiring refreshing; with a focus on the individual and a keen appreciation for diverse experiences. Not only are Mishcon a cutting edge, interesting and innovative law firm who do some fascinating work, but they are welcoming and personable. I came away from the event with them at the forefront of my mind; something I hadn’t bargained for. Then it was just the job of applying!
What was the toughest part of the application process? And your favourite part?
The toughest part of the application process was waiting! I think everyone finds this the worst part of any process. There were seven stages of application, and after every stage you hold your breath for *that* email or phone call…
Apart from the waiting, I would say the final interview was tough. It was by far the hardest interview I’ve had. They were excellent interviewers who really drilled down into my written application, and weren’t afraid to ask difficult and probing questions to understand me, and why I had applied to Mishcon. They also not only scrutinised my application and my answers to their questions, but they gave me two (surprise) mini-case studies/scenarios. I wasn’t quite expecting those, and it was a good challenge to be put on the spot, and then asked to justify my responses and reasoning. Having said that, they were also great to talk with, and we ended up running over time quite significantly with a few laughs along the way.
My favourite part of the process had to be the case-study – which was the sixth stage of the process. I really enjoyed tackling the problem and getting to grips with the task. It was also a great experience to present my findings and advice to a senior lawyer in the firm, and be asked questions based on my presentation. They threw a curve-ball at me mid-presentation and I enjoyed grappling with both the questions, and the new problems which were presented to me. I came out of the meeting room really energised, and I remember texting friends afterwards and saying that I weirdly enjoyed the experience.
Were you surprised by anything in the process?
Apart from my surprise at securing the Vac Scheme?! No, I was expecting it to be a thorough assessment of my abilities and potential, as Mishcon only offer Training Contracts from their Vac Scheme, and they are so sought after.
What three top tips would you give to people applying for a Vacation Scheme?
My three top tips would be:
1. It’s important to actually want to work at the firm you’re applying to. This may seem silly and fairly obvious, but a lot of people apply regardless of whether they can see themselves at the firm or even like the work/people/culture. I think Grad Rec and Partners can tell when they read applications if you really do love the firm, or if you’re just going through the motions. It also helps when it comes to spending time researching the firm – another major part of the application! Also, if you’re asked to talk/write about something you feel passionate about/proud of/think is important – don’t self-censor or overthink. The firm want to get to know you as you, and not some automaton. Genuine emotion comes across both in person and in writing and firms will be looking for, and wanting to hire, genuine candidates. This is something I write about a lot more in my work experience section of the blog here.
2. Use your common sense! When it comes to interview questions and case studies, I found that as long as you think about your answer, the issue at hand and apply some common sense (which isn’t that common!) then you should do well. We often get caught up with crafting the perfect response, or being ‘commercially aware’ and this means we forget to just think rationally.
3. Speak to people in the firm. Nothing beats getting to know the firm through the people who work there. It allows you to really get under the skin of the ethos, the work and the culture. Plus, it makes for a better application if you know what you’re talking about, having heard it from the horse’s mouth. Off the back of having attended the Bright Network event I received an email from a member of the Graduate Recruitment team at MdR – a Trainee had put my name forward as someone they should meet; a massive compliment and completely unexpected. This meant I was invited in to Mishcon to have a coffee with a Partner, a member of Grad Rec and the Trainee – which gave me an invaluable insight into the firm and an opportunity for them to put a face to the name on my application when coming to review them.
What was the toughest question you faced at interview?
Based on your passions/interests – how do you feel about the possibility that you will spend a significant amount of work time making rich people richer?
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