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Amy McCarthy is the graduate recruitment adviser at Dentons, based in the firm’s London office. She has been at the firm for five months.
How did you end up in law?
I studied law at university, went on to do my LPC, and then fell into graduate recruiting at an accountancy firm. I really enjoyed the job, so when the opportunity came up to recruit at Dentons, the biggest law firm in the world, it was a no-brainer.
What are the most/least enjoyable aspects of recruiting?
The best part is calling those people who have been successful in securing a training contact. Their reactions can range from complete silence to lots of happy tears. I also like travelling up and down the country for law fairs and other events; it's always good to have a change of scenery.
On the flipside, the worst part is declining candidates; I find it especially hard if I have interviewed them at the beginning of the process and I’ve been rooting for them.
What is the biggest challenge of the job?
There is never any downtime – once law fairs are over, we launch straight into interviews and assessment centres, and so on. We are only a team of two, so it can be hard to keep all the plates spinning, but it does mean that I am never bored!
What has been your most memorable moment in the job?
During my first month, we were in the process of combining with Scottish firm, Maclay Murray & Spens. So, I went on a week-long tour of Scotland, attending law fairs and visiting our new offices, all of which was really good fun – it was nice to be thrown in at the deep end.
Do you socialise with your trainees/vac scheme students?
Yes, we run various social events, including trainee drinks, vac scheme socials and quiz nights. It’s important to have good relationships with the trainees, as they always help at our student events, even when they’re swamped with work – plus they’re a fun bunch!
What are you trying to achieve at law fairs?
Law fairs are a great opportunity for students to talk to a variety of people from the firm, and get an idea of what we’re really like. All the trainees and partners who attend are happy to answer honestly any questions about life at the firm. Ultimately, we want to promote our excellent vacation scheme and training contract opportunities.
What's the best question you’ve been asked at a fair?
Well, I was asked the other day if I was a partner – they were a bit disappointed when I said no! But generally, the candidates who make the most impact are those who’ve researched the firm, know what we do and what we’re about. They are clearly making an effort to engage with us and find out what life as a Dentons trainee is like. And in terms of those people who do engage, we will take their details and invite them to our Christmas networking event, with partners and trainees, mulled wine and mince pies!
How important is your vacation scheme as part of the recruitment process?
It is massively important – I would encourage applicants to go down that route if possible, as they get two weeks to make an impression on us, rather than just a morning at an assessment centre. They also get to experience the firm and our work, and figure out whether we’re right for them. However, it’s not a requirement to have undertaken one in order to get a training contract.
What is the most common mistake you see candidates making, apart from the obvious typos?
It’s when the application form is too generic and could relate to any City firm. We want to find out why they have chosen Dentons; we know there are similar questions on lots of firm applications, but don’t just copy and paste your answers. I read an application the other day where the applicant hadn’t even changed the name to our firm! Equally, don’t just regurgitate the website; rather, make sure that you can speak confidently about Dentons in the interview without a script, so get to know your material and make it personal to you.
What are the attributes you look for in a trainee that are particularly suited to your firm?
There’s definitely no typical Dentons trainee – our current cohort is very diverse, which is what we want, but there are a few common characteristics, such as being a team player, with great communication skills and commercial awareness. It’s also important to have the necessary drive and ambition to succeed in a highly demanding work environment.
What is the biggest challenge facing would-be lawyers today?
It’s getting harder and harder to secure a training contract; the volume of applications we receive increases every year, and there are so many strong candidates. It can be hard to stand out, so it’s important to get involved with as many extracurricular things as possible during school and uni, and build up a well-rounded application form. Also, submit your form as soon as possible, as we screen on a rolling basis.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining the legal profession?
Do your research, attend as many events, open days and networking sessions as you can. Gaining some legal work experience will also be invaluable – find out what a career in law will actually entail and whether it's definitely right for you before making such a commitment! Unlike other professions, it's not just a degree, it’s the GDL/LPC and then you need to secure two years of training. The job itself is very demanding and can see you working long hours. We are looking for well-rounded trainees, so make sure you get involved in clubs and societies at university – we want to see that you worked hard but did also have some fun.
What is one key fact that you expect candidates to know about your firm?
That we’re the largest in the world – a full-service commercial firm with locations all over the globe.
What is your dream job (other than this one!)?
A singer, touring all over the world. I can't sing though.
What's your guilty pleasure?
What's your desert island disc?
I love music from my parents’ generation, so some 70s classics would be good.View Dentons's details