Michelle Bridge - Bird & Bird
How did you end up in law?
Many years ago, I trained and qualified as a lawyer, specialising in insolvency. At four years qualified, I changed direction and have now been working in graduate recruitment for about eight years.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of recruiting?
For me, it is meeting lots of new people and seeing them progress from applicants to trainees to qualified lawyers. As I was a lawyer myself, I really enjoy that side of things.
What is the biggest challenge of the job?
For us, it’s the very high volume of applications that we receive for a relatively small number of places. We read every single application form we receive, around 2,000 each year for the vacation scheme and training contract processes. It’s crucial that we recruit the right people for what is a very diverse firm - there is no standard Bird & Bird trainee, as they all have very different backgrounds.
What has been your most memorable moment in the job?
It was seeing the first batch of trainees that I had helped to recruit qualify.
Do you socialise with your trainees/vac scheme students?
Always - it’s a great way to get to know them outside of the office. We run lots of events during the vac schemes, as well as for the trainees and future trainees throughout the year. Those are particularly nice for the future trainees, as it ensures that there are lots of familiar faces when they eventually start at the firm.
What are you trying to achieve at law fairs?
Obviously we are trying to sell the firm, telling students about Bird & Bird and why we’re different to our competitors. It’s also a great way to meet potential candidates and answer their questions about the firm and the recruitment process. We are impressed by those who have thought about the different types of law and firm, and recognise that law fairs are a great way to meet a variety of recruiters and trainees.
What's the best question you’ve been asked at a fair?
I’m most impressed by those students who’ve done their research, read about us and ask good questions because they want to know more. You do remember the good people.
How important is your vacation scheme as part of the recruitment process?
Our vac scheme is the main way that we recruit our trainees - only a small number come through the training contract process, so the majority have done a vac scheme here. Doing so enables everyone to make an informed decision. Each scheme is three weeks’ long, so those on the scheme have a good chance to get to get a feel for the firm, especially as they stay in one department for the whole time. However, they are also involved with tasks that allow them to interact with other departments.
What is the most common mistake you see candidates making, apart from the obvious typos?
Application forms that are not sufficiently tailored to this firm and which could be an application to any firm. It’s really important that you don’t just copy and paste standard answers - you need to ensure that they are well researched and relate to the firm you’re applying to.
What are the attributes you look for in a trainee that are particularly suited to your firm?
Obviously there’s no one type, so in addition to the academic and personal qualities they may bring, they also need to be inquisitive and commercially aware and have a desire to find solutions for our clients.
What is the biggest challenge facing would-be lawyers today?
Understanding the importance of the commercial world. It’s not enough to simply understand the detail of the law, although obviously that’s important, but it’s also an appreciation of the international and commercial context within which our clients operate.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining the legal profession?
Do lots of research, stand back and think what want you want from a firm and your career, and then do your research with that in mind. Otherwise, it’s impossible - there are so many firms out there, so it’s essential that you work out what’s important for you.
What is one key fact that candidates should know about your firm?
There is no one thing, rather we want to know why joining Bird & Bird - and what we represent as a firm - is important to them. We also want to know what they can bring.
What is your dream job (other than this one!)?
As I’ve already changed my career once, I feel like I’m already doing my dream job!
What's your guilty pleasure?
Watching trashy TV!
What's your desert island disc?
I have a young toddler, so the best I get to listen to these days is "The wheels on the bus"!View Bird & Bird's details