Amy McCarthy (she/her) is the graduate recruitment manager at Akin. She’s based in the London office and has been at the firm since April 2022.
From a recruitment perspective, I enjoy watching candidates progress through the recruitment process and seeing them go on to get offers to join our two-year training programme – making offer calls is the best part of my job every year! In terms of working at Akin in general, it has a brilliant culture, and I genuinely enjoy coming into the office and working on exciting projects with great people.
Our vacation scheme runs each summer for two weeks. Our 2024 vacation scheme will run from 17 to 28 June and this is our preferred trainee hiring tool as it gives participants the chance to get to know the real us and vice versa. At the end of the scheme, participants will be offered the chance to interview for our two-year training programme. Our vacation scheme is open to penultimate-year law students, final-year students and graduates of any subject.
We offer a comprehensive programme of training sessions, workshops, networking opportunities and social events to help those on the scheme get to know the firm and our people. Our London office summer party, held on our fantastic roof terrace, often falls during the scheme and participants are encouraged to attend.
When not attending timetabled skills sessions, participants’ time is spent sitting with their assigned practice group. Across the two-week programme they get to experience two of our practice areas and we do our best to accommodate their practice group preferences. Participants work alongside our partners, associates and trainees, and get involved in various real-life trainee tasks, including drafting documents, researching points of law, and attending client meetings. We want the work to give them a genuine insight into what the working life of an Akin trainee is really like.
Vacation scheme participants are supported every step of the way. They have a dedicated lawyer supervisor for each practice group seat, as well as a trainee buddy and support from the graduate recruitment team. It’s a packed timetable, but we offer a balance between hands-on learning, skill development and networking/social opportunities!
We recruit only a small intake – about eight trainees a year. As a result, we want people who are keen to take on early responsibility because they’re going to be an integral part of the team from day one. Successful applicants are motivated to hit the ground running, ask considered questions, are proactive and enjoy learning from practice area experts. Being a solicitor is a learning curve all the way up to partner level – our trainees need to be able to think commercially, understand the bigger picture and find solutions to client problems.
Teamwork is also a key skill – whether it’s working with the people in your immediate team, colleagues from our international offices, clients or external counsel.
The firm’s 2024 trainee intake are the first to complete the SQE postgraduate route. Trainees joining us in September 2024 will follow the qualifying work experience (QWE) model. We’ve worked closely with The University of Law to tailor our LLM Legal Practice course to include content that prepares our trainees for a successful career at Akin. All our trainees will complete the SQE assessments before joining the firm to start their two-year QWE.
DEI is paramount to the firm and is something that sets us apart – we’re proud of our commitment to create a diverse and inclusive work environment. We want people to thrive and feel like they can bring their authentic self to work. The more diverse our teams are, the better we are at supporting our talent and finding innovative solutions for our clients.
We have DEI councils that operate firm-wide and at office level, which include a trainee representative. Our trainee DEI reps get the opportunity to work with senior stakeholders across the business on strategic initiatives. Our firmwide resource groups also provide a great forum to engage with colleagues globally and discuss shared interests. In London, we currently have resource groups focused on LGBTQ+, REACH (race, ethnicity & cultural heritage), women, social mobility, abilities and parents/caregivers – and all groups encourage allies. We want people to feel comfortable sharing their ideas, experiences, challenges and concerns and then we want to be able to do something about them.
Gaining any work experience, legal or non-legal, is hard and we recognise that. We believe that both legal and non-legal experiences are valuable as transferable skills are gained from multiple life experiences – whether that be formal law firm experience, part-time work, or extra-curricular activities. Candidates need to be able to identify the skills they’ve developed that’ll help to make them a good lawyer – for example, teamwork, communication, attention to detail and working well under pressure.
Like most firms, we receive lots of applications and it’s very easy to spot applicants that haven’t put the time in to get to know the firm, its strengths, practice areas and clients. Research is hugely important because it’ll help candidates decide the type or firm that’s right for them and their future career aspirations – they need to be making informed decisions about where they’re applying to.
There are various ways to research firms; candidates should attend events, read our recruitment brochure, watch our videos, listen to our podcasts and read our news articles. The more research a candidate does, the more they’ll be able to get a sense of who we are and the stronger their application will be. We want to see genuine interest in the firm and evidence that a candidate has been proactive in finding that information beyond the graduate recruitment website.
We won’t be attending any university-specific events this recruitment season but we’re attending virtual law fairs with Legal Cheek and Aspiring Solicitors, as well as an in-person event with Bright Network. These types of events are an amazing opportunity to meet a wide pool of candidates from across the UK. Virtual events work much better for us to get in front of a wide audience because we’re a lean team and can’t travel up and down the country that easily! This year, we’ll also be running one-hour virtual 'Application Tips & Tricks' sessions during October and November, where attendees will have the opportunity to hear from us about what to expect during the recruitment process, and some top tips to make a stand-out application! You can register to attend a session on our ‘Meet Us’ page of the graduate recruitment website.
Firstly, that’s brilliant news! My advice to all potential applicants is to do your research. We’re a fantastic firm and I could talk endlessly about all the great things we offer, but doing your own research is crucial. So, try to meet us and speak to us at events, follow updates on LinkedIn or Twitter, utilise our various online resources and feel free to get in contact with us if you have any questions about the firm that you can’t find the answer to anywhere else. We’re always willing to help and answer questions if the information isn’t already out there. This year, we launched our new graduate recruitment video – I’d encourage anyone interested in applying to Akin to watch it!
Taking my sausage dog, Maggie, for a long walk!