Skye Fenton-Wells (she/her) is the early talent recruitment manager at Womble Bond Dickinson. She is based in the Bristol office.
At Womble Bond Dickinson we offer a work placement week that follows the assessment day, so it is part of the recruitment process. These usually take place in spring or summer, but can be flexible because we tend to organise them on an individual basis.
Despite the pandemic, candidates were able to complete the work placement week virtually last year. We are hoping to run these in person in 2022.
The work placement week is part of the recruitment process, which consists of:
During the assessment day, we shortlist candidates for the work placement week. During the work placement week, the training contract interview will be conducted.
We believe that the variety of stages and methods we use increases our chance of recruiting top talent. We have designed our assessments in a way that enable candidates to demonstrate a range of behaviours in a variety of ways. As a result, we gain a more holistic understanding of each applicant.
The recruitment process also allows us to showcase the firm in different ways and gives candidates a chance to assess whether Womble Bond Dickinson is the right fit for them, which is equally as important.
My favourite part of the recruitment calendar is meeting the candidates at assessment days and then the process that follows. After spending so much time reviewing application, it’s really great to see the faces behind them and talk to the firm’s potential future lawyers.
It’s also incredibly rewarding watching successful candidates on their journey – making offers to these applicants is the best feeling.
As a firm, providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates is important too. Being able to engage with these candidates and offer them valuable, developmental feedback is extremely worthwhile – particularly when we see them again in future recruitment rounds.
We don’t have a typical list of attributes that we look out for because we recognise the importance of a diverse workforce. Throughout the recruitment process, we focus on really getting to know people and their potential. We are on the look out for candidates who can demonstrate a range of skills, including collaboration, problem solving, adaptability and resilience.
We also really appreciate it when a candidate can show they have a genuine interest in what the firm has to offer and an understanding of the commercial issues that might impact the firm and our clients.
We are still working on the official details of this. We have recognised that the changing landscape gives us a chance to do something different when it comes to educating and training our lawyers.
In that sense, we are viewing it as an opportunity to make sure we are giving our trainees the skills they need to be successful in the profession and our business.
As well as the qualities that make up the ‘O shaped lawyer’, we will also be putting a bigger focus on other areas, including legal tech, project management and client relationships. Our aim is to incorporate a period of part-time work experience with the firm in these areas prior to our trainees starting the formal qualifying work experience (QWE) aspect of the SQE.
We believe this model allows us to take the most innovative approach to developing our future lawyers. We will be able to embed our trainees within the business before they start their QWE, which will prepare them for practice in a way that other approaches might not.
Yes, absolutely! We have a section on our application form that is called ‘life experience’, rather than ‘work experience’. There is more to a person than the legal experience they have had and applicants must not underestimate their non-legal work experience. There are a lot of things that can shape and help candidates to develop important transferrable skills that could be invaluable to Womble Bond Dickinson, so if you can evidence these then we want to hear about it!
Commercial awareness is an important skill for our lawyers because it enables them to understand what issues are impacting our clients and will help them to become valued business advisers.
Combined with the other skills mentioned earlier, commercial awareness means our lawyers can go further than just providing technical legal advice. This skill will enable them to identify and create new sources of value for our clients.
If candidates can demonstrate that they’re aware of current issues, it’s a real advantage. However, candidates can set themselves apart from other applicants even further by taking the issues, contextualising them, and explaining how they might impact the firm and our clients going forward.
We have a great early talent careers page on our website, so candidates should have a look around that. Social media is also a great research tool for our future candidates because it offers them a more personal insight into life at the firm.
They should also think about their life experience and the transferable skills I mentioned before, in order to identify and be able to explain to us what they can bring to the table.
My dream job would be a vet – I've always loved animals and to be able to work with them all the time would be so fulfilling!