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Meet the recruiter

Lauren Banks

Lauren Banks

Lauren Banks is a resourcing advisor at Blake Morgan who looks after early careers at the firm. She’s based in their Southampton office.

What has been your most memorable moment in the job?

There are so many enjoyable aspects to this job! Going to law fairs and meeting students is great – it’s always fantastic to see their enthusiasm for the legal industry.  

Making training contract offers is also an excellent part of my role. It's very satisfying and rewarding hearing how happy and excited they always are to start their legal careers at Blake Morgan!

Does your firm run a vacation scheme?

Yes, we’ll be running a week-long vacation scheme in summer 2024 and it’ll be held in person across all our offices, located in Cardiff, London, Oxford, Reading and Southampton.

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

Vacation schemes are an important part of the recruitment process as they give candidates invaluable insights into how we work and our culture. Equally, they give recruiters the chance to see candidates in action and to assess how they work individually and with others.

They’re also a great way for both the candidate and us to see whether we're a good match, as it can be daunting to apply for training contracts without knowing the firm and what it’s about.

We don’t hire exclusively through our vacation scheme; it’s a mix of that and direct applications. We understand that it’s not always possible for candidates to attend a vacation scheme and our recruitment process reflects this.

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

Candidates can expect to get involved with a wide range of activities, including experience of the work they’d be doing as a trainee at the firm. This includes the chance to sit in on client meetings, assisting with research assignments, drafting documents, one-to-one time with current trainees and attending skills sessions throughout the week.

Associates and partners will be involved throughout to offer support to candidates – it's a really exciting week aimed to develop attendees’ skills and offer the opportunity to network within the firm and with other attendees.     

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

When reviewing applications, as well as the academic requirements, I look for candidates who display a wide range of skills, including:

  • good communication;
  • analytical skills
  • adaptability; and
  • commercial awareness.

I also look for candidates who:

  • are motivated;
  • are driven;
  • are resilient;
  • have a keen interest in Blake Morgan’s values and mindset; and
  • are a team player.

We’re also looking for candidates to be their authentic selves. We want to see who they are and what their interests are outside of work.  

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

We welcome applicants who are doing the SQE route. In our last two recruitment cycles we have hired SQE candidates. We’re still accepting Legal Practice Course candidates in this recruitment cycle.

How important is diversity and inclusion (D&I) to your firm?

D&I is central to everything we do and is at the heart of our values. We’re proud of the work we’re doing to create a work environment where everyone feels safe and respected, and an environment without discrimination. We have dedicated teams at Blake Morgan that are responsible for driving our D&I initiative and supporting our employees. We often have internal discussion session relating to different D&I topics where we can come together to discuss and how we as a firm can keep improving.
 
In addition, we use a contextual recruitment system, which allows us to review applications with an understanding of a candidate’s unique circumstances to help identify talented candidates.

We also run a PRIME and Growing Ambitions work experience scheme each year, which aims to help young people from low-income families gain access to the legal industry. We also work with social mobility and diversity charities, including GROW Mentoring.

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

We see a lot of typos and grammatical errors in applications. As such, it’s so important to have someone check over your application before submitting it! If a candidate has ticked all the boxes but the attention to detail isn't there, it can really impact the application.

Also, it’s disappointing when a candidate hasn't researched the firm well. We understand candidates are applying to multiple firms but it’s crucial to show that you’ve researched us and have a genuine interest in Blake Morgan.

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 crucial to research the firm you’re applying to. Our website is a great starting point, with lots of news updates about clients we've worked with and details of the sectors we specialise in. For example, articles and case studies written by members of the firm offer great insights into the firm as a business. Equally, use tools like LinkedIn and other social media platforms to find regular updates about what life is like at the firm. Applications really stand out when it’s clear a candidate has researched the firm in detail.

Does your firm attend university law fairs in the autumn term? What is your main objective when you go to a law fair?

Yes, we attend university law fairs in our local regions. They’re an important part of our recruitment process as it allows us the chance to meet with potential applicants and discuss the graduate opportunities available.

We have our current trainee solicitors involved in these events, as this gives the students the chance to speak with them and ask them any questions about being a trainee at Blake Morgan. Students should make sure they come to the fairs prepared with questions to ask us. Not only will this help them get all the information they need, but it will also make them feel more relaxed. It also leaves a good impression when a student is prepared!

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

Of course! We believe that any work experience is valuable. Non-legal work experience can be used to show valuable skills and lessons that candidates have picked up that can be transferred into the world of law. We also want to hear about any volunteering work too. We know that since the pandemic, legal experience has been harder to come by so it's great to see what else candidates have been doing.  

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

I’d recommend always doing thorough research into the firm and familiarising yourself with who we are, the work we do and day-to-day life at the firm. Familiarise yourself with our ACTS framework, which encompasses our core values as a firm – we encourage our staff to always keep these in mind. 

What’s your favourite way to unwind from work?

I love going to the gym to unwind after a busy day, especially spin classes. I find it a great way to de-stress and relax. Reading is also a fantastic way to unwind after work.