Whether this is your first application cycle or your fifth, identifying the right law firm for you might be the most important stage in the process.
You can’t start sending off your applications if you don’t know your reasons for doing so; some applications even include this question right at the beginning! Even if they don’t, this is something you’ll undoubtedly be asked at the interview or assessment centre stage. So, know your reasons and develop a persuasive answer.
Tailor your application
The applicants' common downfall is answering too broadly. ‘The high-profile work’ or ‘the options for international secondment’ may indeed be things that attract you to the firm – but they’re also very generic and true of many firms!
Is there something about the work or secondments at this firm specifically that interests you, or maybe there’s something about you that means these things are personally important?
The focus of your research should be twofold – to realise what is personally important to you in your future place of work; and to identify which firms fit that profile.
All firms have characteristics that may be important to a potential applicant – these primarily boil down to the following:
Create a table detailing your research with these points to guide you. By diving in and starting to research a few different firms, you’ll find that you naturally realise which ones you’re more attracted to. If you find a pattern of enthusiasm for City law firms offering a particular international secondment, you're starting to realise what you want out of your career. You now need to work out why these aspects are important to you.
There’s no table that I can provide for you to answer this. After identifying what has attracted you to a firm, you should look at yourself – your paid employment, volunteering, academic background, extra-curriculars, and personal life or hobbies – and identify which of those things support your interest. For example, if you’re interested in firms that have a strong private equity practice, and you have previous work experience in a related area, let this form part of your answer! The hard evidence makes your answer genuine and sets you apart.
After you’ve worked out which firms interest you and your personal reasons as to why, you’re almost ready to send off that application. Before doing so, it can be useful to attend some firm-led events or law fairs to gain an even deeper insight into firms that have caught your attention. These events can confirm your passion or help you to realise your disinterest. They can also be helpful in providing an insight into the culture and ‘vibe’ of a firm – something you can’t gain from looking at the website. Speak to people from the firm, learn more and use your interactions with the firm to further bolster your application.
Now, you’re ready!