Grainne Mitchell is the graduate resourcing manager at Addleshaw Goddard. She is based in the Leeds office and has been at the firm for nine years.
We will be running the placement schemes virtually again this year. Given the ongoing covid-19 situation, we felt that keeping the schemes online this summer was the safest and least disruptive way for candidates to participate and running the schemes virtually last year proved to be very successful.
We will continue to recruit via both routes and will be doing so virtually this year. We are now well accustomed to virtual recruitment so candidates can be assured that our virtual assessments are consistent with our 'usual' in-person assessments.
We have no plans to reduce our trainee intake. It's been really encouraging to see how Addleshaw Goddard remains committed to bringing through the brightest talent. In addition, we've not deferred any training contract start dates and our current NQ retention rate is 88% which is remarkable given current market conditions.
We are currently reviewing our campus activity for the upcoming year but hope to be present on campus to meet students subject to covid-19 government guidelines. I expect we will take part in a mix of university law fairs, media branded law fairs and firm specific events. Candidates should regularly check our website for details of our attendance at upcoming events.
We recruit the vast majority of our trainees from the vacation scheme, so it is really important. Our vac schemes have been designed in a way that enables us to thoroughly test candidates – for example, they are treated as part of the team from day one and are essentially working as a trainee for the time they are with us. So, we are in the best position to make an assessment regarding training contract offers.
It also gives candidates an opportunity to test whether AG is right for them – it's very much a two-way process.
Candidates can expect to complete typical day-to-day trainee tasks. They are also involved in a pitch exercise, which is designed to simulate what it would be like to work as part of a team on a client pitch – something our trainees often get involved in. This pitch is completed on a group basis and there is a presentation element to it as well. On top of this, there are a number of additional exercises to complete throughout the week – these ensure we have candidates completing the exact same exercises, which will be marked by supervisors.
We are looking for someone who can demonstrate a passion for a career in commercial law and in particular AG. A lot of this comes down to enthusiasm, drive and commitment. We also consider a person's character – we want people who have a spark, to demonstrate their enthusiasm and show they are willing to be a team player. Candidates must also showcase why AG is the firm for them; a lot of this comes down to research and the amount of time that they have dedicated to getting to know the firm.
The one that really stands out for me is generic answers that are copied and pasted from application to application. It is always obvious when a candidate’s answer could apply to any law firm. Typos, getting the firm name wrong, misreading and therefore not answering the question are also common ways candidates can let themselves down.
Yes – absolutely. It’s important for candidates to demonstrate their transferrable skills. We understand that not all applicants will have completed legal work experience and we are aware that access to legal work experience isn’t easy to get. As such, we are more than happy to take examples of non-legal work experience, as long as candidates demonstrate those transferrable skills. We recruit a broad range of candidates, which is incredibly important to us.
For AG, it’s the basic aspects, including office locations and recent mergers. For example, we merged with HBJ Gateley several years ago but so many candidates don’t know about this despite it being a relatively recent development. Knowing our office locations is important –candidates often talk about us having offices in the US, which we don’t. This comes back to the point about generic applications.
Understanding our sectoral approach and intelligent delivery are key – there are several things we do that make us stand out from other law firms. This information is all widely available but will require more than a cursory glance at our homepage. Candidates should also follow us in the legal press so they know what deals we are working on and must continue to follow us beyond sending their applications in as we will be looking for the most up to date knowledge on the firm throughout the process.
In a basic sense it’s having an awareness of what’s going on in the business world, how developments are likely to impact businesses or how businesses might react to them. It is then thinking about it in a legal context (eg, how we can help clients). At AG we view ourselves as business advisers, as well as legal advisers. The success of our long-term client relationships is because our lawyers understand the sectors our clients operate in as well as their individual business needs.
Some research is desirable. It's never great when candidates approach a stand at a law fair asking who we are and what we do! The candidates that stand out for all the right reasons are those who have researched the firm and as a result ask more relevant and insightful questions which means they will get much more from their conversations with us. That said, we wouldn’t necessarily expect a first year to have the same knowledge as say a third year but it would be useful for them to know basic information about individual law firms, as well as having a general sense as to why AG may be on their radar. The further you are in your academics and the closer you are to applying for training contracts, the more research I would expect you to have done.
Candidates should speak to people at different levels – for example, paralegal, trainee, associate and partner. Try to understand as much as you can about the firm and its culture. Make sure you follow us in the legal press and are receiving regular updates on firm developments. Know our client base and be clear about why you want to work at AG.
Be as engaging as you can. Candidates should turn on their camera and ask questions. We all expect minor tech issues, or a person to walk into the room unexpectedly so try to relax and take this in your stride. Embrace and enjoy the process because you can still stand out from the crowd virtually. Remember, if a vacation scheme has gone virtual, you’re in the same boat as everybody else on that vac scheme – you’re not at a disadvantage. We have seen some incredibly strong candidates come through our virtual vac schemes so the number of offers that have been made has not been impacted by the fact that we had to go virtual with the schemes. Hopefully this is encouraging for candidates.
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