Aidan Connor - Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP
Where do you work (geographically speaking)?
Our offices are in Canary Wharf, where we have fantastic views. We can see the City and the Olympic Park from our building.
How did you end up in law?
I graduated with a law degree in 2005 and, although I didn't want to be a lawyer, I did want to use my degree and work with people, so recruitment seemed like a good fit. I’ve now been in HR for seven years, with the last four in graduate recruitment.
What are your main responsibilities?
The full graduate recruitment programme, so everything from engaging with students and working on marketing strategy, to coordinating the vacation schemes and conducting interviews.
Who is in your team?
It's me and two graduate recruitment partners.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of recruiting?
What I really enjoy is the contact with lots of different people. We have lots of graduates knocking at our door, so continually trying to find different ways to recruit the right people is a real challenge.
Do you socialise with your trainees/vac scheme students?
The role I have means that there is lots of opportunity to socialise with the current and future trainees, and vac scheme students, which is great. We do try and do interesting things on the vac schemes - in our recent Easter scheme we went bowling and had a curry on Brick Lane. This summer, we're hoping to tie the scheme in with the Olympics and Euro 2012.
Do you attend law fairs? Why is it important for students to attend?
We are going to around seven fairs this year, as well as running presentations and networking events, such as dinners and drinks. Making sure there’s a good fit between candidate and firm is important, and that's why these sorts of events are important for both us and students. You may be working here for the rest of your career, so it’s important to get it right at the beginning.
Fairs are also really useful for us to see what other firms are doing. The graduate recruitment community is strong and it's great to be able to share ideas. It's competitive to a degree, but at the same time, the way we progress and adapt is by comparing what we do with others.
What's the most annoying question you're asked by students?
What frustrates me is when a candidate says something that demonstrates they haven't done any research into the firm. You need to have a basic understanding of the type of firm you're applying to.
What do you look for in a candidate?
Obviously academics are important, and we do conduct an intellectually rigorous assessment process, but we also want candidates who have a keen interest in the business areas of the firm, such as corporate, M&A, banking and capital markets. If a good candidate has some previous experience in any of those areas, such as an undergraduate finance degree, that's great.
What is the most common mistake you see candidates making?
Typos! I know that people are usually doing lots of applications at once but if the first impression we get of you is of written errors, and you're being compared to 10 others who haven’t made any mistakes, it's not good. Partners in particular don’t like to see errors in application forms!
How should candidates approach you for feedback after an interview?
As our vacation scheme is a key driver for our recruitment process, we do offer feedback to those vac scheme students who have been unsuccessful, but we can't offer it to everyone who applies because of the numbers. Plus, it's hard to give meaningful feedback unless you’ve actually met someone, as I don’t think you can offer a true assessment of someone’s capabilities just from a CV.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining the legal profession?
Don't assume that you won't get a job if you haven't got any legal experience; transferable skills are very important. Think about anything you’ve done in an employment setting and how it might transfer to the work of a solicitor. For example, in a retail job you may have dealt with people in a pressured environment or used good time management skills, both of which apply to the work of a trainee. You also need to make sure that you know who you’re applying to - don't just spray your CV across the City; this is a huge career decision so try and gain as much insight into the profession and your chosen firms as possible.
What makes your firm stand out from the rest?
We are a leading global law firm, and we value all our staff and have a very inclusive culture. There is a real sense of camaraderie - the nature of the job is such that solicitors spend a lot of time at work and you have to be able to get along with your colleagues, so we spend a lot of time working out who would be a good fit. We also take on just 10 trainees per year, which is quite a small number for a global firm, and it means that trainees are working on big, 'front page of the FT' type deals.
If you could do something completely different, what would it be?
I'd be a scientist.
What's your guilty pleasure?
What's your desert island disc?
Never Mind by Nirvana.View Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP's details