updated on 26 February 2019
I applied for the LawCareersNetLIVE careers conference in September 2018 and received an offer in October to attend the London conference. The offer email required me to indicate my preferences for the morning and afternoon workshops run by leading City law firms. The 90-minute workshops are just one of many valuable aspects of the day, which includes three substantial networking opportunities in addition to panel discussions on application tips and how law firms operate in the wider business world. The workshops I opted for were ‘international mergers and acquisitions’ run by Baker McKenzie and ‘the life cycle of a company’ run by Cooley.
The workshop was run by a partner, senior associate and current trainee. The workshop consisted of a presentation and we were encouraged to ask questions as the presentation progressed. The workshop ended with a Q&A session with the firm’s representatives. The first part was valuable because it introduced some of the wider commercial issues beyond the law that solicitors need to consider during a large corporate transaction to help a client. For example, the partner discussed the importance of understanding what the client wants to achieve and how Baker McKenzie can support the client with this.
The discussion also highlighted the types of responsibilities a trainee solicitor may have during a corporate seat and how a solicitor’s involvement progresses as you become more experienced.
The Q&A session encouraged us to ask any questions. This was an honest insight into life at the firm. It was nice to hear that other delegates had similar questions about the culture of a firm. It was also inspiring to learn how each lawyer got to their current position; from here they offered tips on applications.
The workshop was run by the firm’s graduate recruitment team and three of the firm’s associates and senior associates. It was a great opportunity to interact with other delegates as well as the firm’s lawyers. The firm gave everyone the same case study – the process of bringing a new product to market – and various tasks associated with this. We worked in groups and the firm’s solicitors would get involved with our discussions. For example, the first task was to discuss some potential intellectual property (IP) issues in order to protect the new product’s brand. One of the firm’s associates, a specialist in its IP practice, was really happy to help with my table’s discussion and explain things we were unsure of. It was also a good opportunity to learn from other delegates who had knowledge of IP law.
Overall, both workshops gave a detailed and honest insight into the role of a commercial solicitor and also helped me to understand what is meant by ‘commercial awareness’. This was a key motivation of mine for applying and I would encourage any aspiring commercial solicitor with similar questions to do the same.
There are three slots throughout the day of about 60 to 90-minutes each, to meet members of renowned City law firms. This is an opportunity to meet further members of firms that you complete workshops with and other highly respected law firms. There is the opportunity to speak with trainees, associates, partners and the graduate recruitment teams from each firm.
As there are three chances to speak with all firms, you have the choice of meeting all firms to gain a greater understanding of the different types of City firms or you can target the firms you would like to apply to and learn in greater detail what they are looking for.
Both the ‘law firm as a business’ and ‘application advice’ panels consisted of graduate recruitment partners, graduate recruitment managers and very experienced careers advisors in the legal sector.
Two important tips the panel highlighted were how to demonstrate that you have the relevant skills and how non-legal experience was equally important. As I completed a non-law undergraduate degree, this was an important learning point and emphasised that I should draw on the skills I have learnt from part-time work, for example, and not leave this out. Perhaps the most important point from both panels was to be yourself when meeting firms, writing applications or attending interviews.
Overall, the event is a valuable learning opportunity and a rare chance to do substantial networking. I would highly recommend applying for the conference; it is an opportunity that should not be missed.
Sophie Thomas is a GDL student. She attended LawCareersNetLIVE London in November 2018.