Bird & Bird
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Eleanor Tubby is the graduate recruitment officer at Bird & Bird. She is based in the London office and has been at the firm for two years.
How did you end up in law?
After studying psychology at university I secured a position at a recruitment agency. I soon realised that it was a role I loved, but I wanted to make a move to internal/in-house recruitment where there is greater emphasis on people in the recruitment process. Graduate recruitment within the legal profession appealed to me as it's a vast industry with many challenges and great development potential.
What are the most/least enjoyable aspects of recruiting?
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role is going onto campus and meeting enthusiastic and passionate candidates. It is very rewarding to meet a student at an event and follow their progress though the recruitment process, which eventually leads to them securing a training contract offer. On the other hand, one of the least enjoyable tasks is informing candidates they have been unsuccessful after the placement scheme. We really enjoy meeting all summer students and get to know them well during their three weeks with us, so it can be hard to deliver that difficult message.
What is the biggest challenge of the job?
One of the biggest challenges I think all graduate recruiters now face is ensuring that increasingly high-volume recruitment processes are kept fair and open to all applicants. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that we are assessing candidates via the most inclusive and fair recruitment practices. This helps us to recruit a diverse and talented trainee cohort.
What has been your most memorable moment in the job?
One of the most memorable moments so far has been helping to implement our new video screening tool and developing a fair and effective reviewing process. It has allowed us to increase the number of candidates we interview during the first round and ultimately allows a greater number of applicants through to our assessment days.
Do you socialise with your trainees/vac scheme students?
Yes - we have a number of different social events on our summer schemes, from internal networking events to cookery classes! It is important to us to get to know our summer students properly and see their personalities in a more relaxed atmosphere.
What are you trying to achieve at law fairs?
Law fairs are a great opportunity for us to demonstrate what Bird & Bird is all about to a large number of students at one time. They are also an opportunity for students to get valuable 'face time' with trainees and members of our team.
It is a good opportunity (especially for first-year students) to do some initial research into the different types of firms out there. Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate City law firms from one another; one way of ensuring that you can is to do some proper research by attending an event or law fair, where one actually meets the employers and can appreciate how different they really are!
In recent years we have moved away from attending a large number of law fairs and focused on creating engaging and valuable opportunities for candidates to connect with the firm. This includes running workshops, training sessions and increasing our social media presence.
What's the best question you’ve been asked at a fair?
I can’t pinpoint the 'best' question, but the candidates that have clearly done their research tend to ask more insightful questions. Although law fairs are an opportunity for a student to find out about a firm, in an ever more competitive recruitment environment, they should also be used as an opportunity to make a good first impression. I certainly take a note of those students who impress at a fair.
How important is your vacation scheme as part of the recruitment process?
The summer scheme is a very important part of our recruitment process as we tend to recruit the majority of our trainees via this route. We therefore tend to have minimal spaces left by the end of the summer when the 'direct' training contract process begins. If you are in a position to complete a summer scheme, I would certainly recommend doing so. It is a great way for candidates to gain an insight into life at Bird & Bird.
What is the most common mistake you see candidates making, apart from the obvious typos?
A lot of candidates will simply list the skills we have mentioned on our website in their application forms, rather than evidencing them in an articulate and engaging manner.
We want candidates to go a little deeper and tell us why and how they gained a particular skill and why they think it is relevant for a lawyer at Bird & Bird. It is better to focus on a few of the skills you think the law firm is looking for and cover them properly, rather than writing a long list of generic skills with little evidentiary detail. This may sound obvious, but lots of candidates make this mistake.
What are the attributes you look for in a trainee that are particularly suited to your firm?
Our excellence in client service is underpinned by our ability to provide creative solutions to clients' commercial issues. Therefore it translates that our lawyers are commercially minded with a creative approach. Of course, at this stage we are not looking for the finished article. Business acumen is something we develop throughout the period of recognised training and beyond. We are looking for those candidates who demonstrate the ability to develop commercial awareness and show an interest in the wider context in which the legal industry operates. In addition to this, we look for candidates whose applications show a creative side, whether this be through their work experience or extracurricular activities.
What is the biggest challenge facing would-be lawyers today?
One of the biggest challenges facing would-be lawyers today is increased competition. I read a shocking statistic recently, revealing that last year only 20% of law graduates (not including non-law students) secured a training contract. With law firms reporting increased numbers of applications year on year, it is more important than ever that candidates have a clear idea of why they want to enter the profession and are able to articulate their unique selling points and skill sets effectively.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining the legal profession?
As competition rises, firms are beginning to look at different ways to assess the growing number of applicants. This in turn means candidates needs to be flexible and prepared to embrace a number of different recruitment practices. For example, an increasing number of law firms are now using video interviews. This requires a different type of preparation and approach to a normal interview. As the industry evolves, candidates need to be more aware of different recruitment strategies.
What is one key fact that candidates should know about your firm?
I would expect candidates to know and understand our key differentiators; deep industry knowledge, international reach and excellence in client service. If they don't know these core values, I would be surprised if they had even read our website!
What is your dream job (other than this one!)?
If I could have any job in the world, I think it would be a travel journalist. I have just got back from a holiday in New York which has made me want to travel more. I could definitely live out of a suitcase exploring the world!
What's your guilty pleasure?
The occasional glass of wine!
What's your desert island disc?
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours. I just can't get bored of it!View Bird & Bird's details