Catherine Knight - DLA Piper UK LLP
What is your job title?
Graduate recruitment officer.
Where do you work (geographically speaking)?
I'm based in our Birmingham office along with most of the graduate recruitment team, although I travel regularly to our other UK offices, particularly Leeds and Sheffield.
How did you end up in law?
After leaving university, I worked as a recruitment consultant for an international recruitment agency for over six years. My job focused on legal recruitment and DLA Piper was actually one of my clients. When the firm advertised a graduate recruitment role, I jumped at it.
How long have you been in the job?
I joined in January 2012, so it's early days, but I've enjoyed it immensely so far.
What are your main responsibilities?
I'm involved in all areas of the recruitment cycle, including attending law fairs, screening applications, interviewing and making offers. I'm also specifically responsible for the trainee management of our Leeds and Sheffield offices.
Who is in your team?
There's the head of graduate recruitment, three graduate recruitment officers including myself, two assistants and one administrative assistant.
What are the most/least enjoyable aspects of recruiting?
The most enjoyable aspect is calling a candidate to offer them a training contract and being witness to their delighted reaction. It's especially rewarding if you have known the candidate throughout their time on the summer scheme and watched their progression to successfully obtaining a training contract. On the flipside, the least enjoyable moments involve telling candidates that they have not been successful in their training contract applications, especially if I have gotten to know them.
What is the biggest challenge of the job?
The biggest challenge is balancing all the different aspects of my role within tight time scales. It's a really varied role, but on the plus side this means that no two days are the same.
Do you socialise with your trainees/vac scheme students?
Yes, the graduate recruitment team does attend some of the events on our summer schemes and trainee socials. However, we don’t attend them all, because we want candidates to feel relaxed and be themselves, rather than feel that they are constantly being assessed.
What has been your most memorable moment in the job?
Attending the recent trainee induction and seeing a hundred eager faces ready to start. I found myself wondering which of them would be the firm's future partners.
Do you attend law fairs? Why is it important for students to attend?
This will be my first round of law fairs and I will be attending along with some trainees. We split the law fair attendance among the members of the graduate recruitment team, so come along to your local fair and say hello to one of us!
What's the most annoying question you're asked by students?
The only questions that I find annoying are those that show a basic lack of initiative - typically questions that can be answered by a quick glance at our website!
What do you look for in a candidate?
Aside from strong intellectual ability, which every law firm looks for, we are looking for people with a wide range of outside interests coupled with a genuine desire to be a commercial lawyer at DLA Piper.
What is the most common mistake you see candidates making?
It's the basic stuff - spelling and grammatical errors on application forms are never good. I've seen some examples of candidates copying and pasting passages from one application to another, which is particularly obvious when they have forgotten to remove references to another firm. Occasionally, a candidate will also put false academic information on his/her application - we verify all academic results, so don't do this.
What has a candidate done that has most impressed you?
Going above and beyond in terms of research is always impressive. One recent interviewee really stood out because he had done some specific research into the partner conducting the interview. He was able to talk about the partner's recent work, which was pretty impressive.
How should candidates approach you for feedback after an interview?
We are happy to provide feedback to all candidates who have attended an interview. They simply need to email us to request it and a member of the team will call them with the feedback as soon as we can. Unfortunately we can't provide feedback to those who have been unsuccessful at the application form stage.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining the legal profession?
I would advise anyone considering it to do a lot of research into the different kinds of law firms across the profession, and establish what kind of work would be of personal interest. I also think it's important to get some work experience, in order to get a sense of what life as a lawyer is really like.
What makes your firm stand out from the rest?
Our vision is to be the leading global business law firm - our size and international reach certainly makes us stand out from our competitors. It also allows us to give our trainees the chance to spend one of their four seats in one of our international offices or on a client secondment. However, despite the global nature of the law firm, each of our UK offices has retained a down to earth, open-door atmosphere.
If you could do something completely different, what would it be?
I enjoyed organising my own wedding so much that I now think I would like to run my own wedding planning business, or even a bridal boutique!
What's your guilty pleasure?
My Friday night TV takeaway in front of How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory.
What's your desert island disc?
It would either have to be Lady Gaga or Westlife - so a mix of upbeat dance tracks and power ballads!View DLA Piper UK LLP's details