Katie Sands is the UK graduate recruitment and development manager at DLA Piper. She is based at the London office and joined the firm in December 2016.
I joined the legal profession from working in HR in the investment banking industry, where I worked across a range of HR disciplines in the United Kingdom and France prior to specialising in graduate recruitment and development.
The most enjoyable part of the role is working with students from secondary schools and universities across the United Kingdom, and helping them to understand and then achieve their career aspirations. It is fulfilling to educate students at schools and universities about their career options, and for the same students to go on to achieve internship and graduate positions at their employers of choice.
Another favourite aspect is designing, organising and running our annual international graduate induction. This induction brings together our graduate classes from across the world, and offers industry-leading training and development to our graduates to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge, skills and behaviours they require to be successful in the future
At law fairs, we hope to be able to educate students about what life is like at DLA Piper. We hope to provide students with the information they need to understand the journey, from where they are now to where they want to get to. We ensure that a range of colleagues from across the firm such as partners, senior associates and trainees attend the law fairs alongside graduate recruitment so that students can form a realistic and clear impression of the firm. Students regularly comment on how friendly and approachable our colleagues are at university events.
Across all of our UK offices, our internship programme is the key talent pipeline for our future graduate intake. Our internship lasts for three weeks. In the first week, our UK-wide intern population participate in an induction in our London office. The second and third week of the internship are then spent in the office which the student has been recruited to. Our internship programme is challenging, educational and fun, and our highest performing interns will receive an offer for our graduate programme.
On our programme, our interns gain an insight into the firm's culture, international work and people, and it is the best way for students to see whether our firm is the place they can see themselves succeeding in in the future.
We are looking for students who are able to demonstrate a range of knowledge, skills and behaviours. Examples of the skills we're looking for in our trainees are as follows: leadership, teamwork, interpersonal, analysis, creativity, organisation, adaptability and commercial outlook.
There is so much choice available to students in terms of options following the completion of their university studies. It's therefore essential to start learning about the different routes available as early as possible, through careers events held at their university, as well as events held at the offices of law firms. Brochures, websites and social media can provide an insight into a firm's culture, but meeting colleagues from firms is so much more meaningful and can help students define where they see themselves in the future.
DLA Piper has eight practice groups, which represent the firm's areas of legal expertise. The practice groups are as follows: corporate; employment; finance and projects; intellectual property and technology; litigation and regulatory; real estate; restructuring; and tax. We also have 10 sectors which form the strategic focus for our firm. Our sectors are as follows: consumer goods and retail; energy and resources; financial services; industrials; infrastructure, construction and transport; insurance; life sciences; media, sport and entertainment; real estate; and technology.
Our graduates complete rotations across our practice groups, and also build their sector knowledge and expertise throughout the graduate programme.
I would expect students to have a clear understanding of why they would like to work for DLA Piper. The reason for this will be unique to each student. Examples of this include the firm's culture, its commitment to local communities, the training and development opportunities available to graduates and its international presence.
I would open a campsite in France, have my own coffee shop, be a yoga teacher or run a children's nursery school.
A good cup of coffee!
Paul Simon, Graceland.