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Meet the recruiter

Grainne Mitchell

Grainne Mitchell

Grainne Mitchell (she/her) is the senior graduate manager at Addleshaw Goddard. She is based in the Leeds office and has been at the firm for nine years.

Is Addleshaw Goddard running vacation schemes in 2021-22?

Absolutely! We will be running vacation schemes at Easter and summer. For the past two years, we have successfully run the schemes virtually but are hopeful that we will be able to return to face-to-face placement schemes to give candidates the best experience and insights into life at Addleshaw Goddard (AG).

Will you be recruiting solely through the vac scheme or can candidates apply directly?

We recruit the majority of candidates through our placement schemes but candidates who are unable to attend a placement scheme or wish to apply a little later in the year can still apply through our direct training contract route.

Will the firm be decreasing the size of its trainee intake due to the impact of covid-19?

AG has no plans to reduce our trainee intake. It's been really encouraging to see how the firm remains so committed to bringing through the brightest talent as our business continues to grow. In addition, we've not deferred any training contract start dates and our current newly qualified lawyer retention rate is 86% which is fantastic given the current climate.

How is the firm adopting the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)?

The first group of trainees qualifying through the SQE route are our current solicitor apprentices who will qualify in 2023. Our September 2024 trainees coming through the placement scheme or direct training contract routes will be AG's first mainstream trainees to qualify through the SQE.

How did the firm adapt to covid-19?

The firm adapted remarkably well and incredibly quickly to the pandemic. On a practical level, we were well prepared for the move to home working. The firm put various practical and wellbeing measures in place to support employees. Each trainee had one-to-one calls with their HR contact and guidance on virtual working was given to trainees and their supervisors. The firm also allocated funds so each employee could purchase the necessary equipment to aid working from home.

Will you be attending any virtual and in-person law fairs this autumn?

Many events are likely to be virtual this autumn but if it is safe to do so we will try to get on campus too. Students can expect to see us at 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.

How important is your vacation scheme as part of the recruitment process?

We recruit the vast majority of our trainees from the vacation scheme, so it is very 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 allows candidates to test if AG is right for them – it's very much a two-way process.

What kind of work can candidates expect to experience during the vacation scheme?

Candidates can expect to complete typical day-to-day trainee tasks, including- drafting, research and sitting in on client meetings/calls. 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 same exercises, so we can fairly compare candidate’s performance.  

What key skills does your firm look for in candidates when they apply?

We are looking for candidates who can demonstrate a passion for a career in commercial law and in 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 showcase their enthusiasm and willingness to be a team player. Candidates must also demonstrate 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.

What is the most common way that candidates let themselves down in their applications?

The one that stands out is generic answers that are probably 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.

Should candidates use examples of non-legal work experience in their applications?

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, with varied previous experience which is incredibly important to us.

How important is it for candidates to show they have researched the firm? What key things about your firm should any good candidate be able to talk about?

It's extremely important for candidates to demonstrate they have researched the firm. Starting with the very basics – the size of the firm, office locations, recent office openings, practice areas.

Good candidates will be able to speak confidently about our sector approach, know some of our key clients and give examples of deals we've worked on.

Understanding our sectoral approach and intelligent delivery is 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.

How important is commercial awareness and how can candidates show they have this skill in their applications?

It's absolutely fundamental to what we do as a business. In a basic sense, commercial awareness is understanding 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.

Before speaking to you at a law fair, how much should a candidate have researched the firm? Is it different for first years compared to second and third years?

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 student to have the same knowledge as say a third-year student 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 the firm of their choice. The further you are in your academic career and the closer you are to applying for training contracts, the more research I would expect you to have completed.

What advice would you give to anyone interested in a career at your firm?

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.

Do you have any practical advice for candidates undertaking a hybrid vacation scheme?

Familiarise yourself with the timetable so you know where you need to be and when – that will take a lot of stress away! Where possible manage your time so any tasks or conversations that are better to have in-person can be arranged for the days you are in the office.

Be as enthusiastic virtually as you are in person – where possible turn your camera on and try to ask insightful questions.

What's your guilty pleasure?

A spa day with my girlfriends!