Rachel McCreedy is the early talent adviser at Gowling WLG. She is based in the Birmingham office and has been at the firm for almost a year.
I have always worked in the legal profession and started my career as an office junior at a law firm, where I progressed my way up to become a senior secretary, before eventually studying for my CILEx qualifications and working in family law. After a while, I realised I wanted a change and moved to Canada, where I spent the next four years – it was a brilliant experience. During my time in Canada I gained my CIPD qualification in HR, which enabled me to join Gowling WLG when I returned. I began in an operations role, which included exposure to the firm’s recruitment activities. I really enjoy that side of things and am now part of the recruitment and development team.
It’s always great to see the excitement and enthusiasm of future trainees and to know that you are giving them their start. I wouldn’t describe it as unenjoyable at all, but because I am relatively new to my job, it is certainly a challenge to juggle all the intricate parts of the role – there are a lot of spinning plates, but hopefully no smashed ones!
On one assessment day, a candidate approached me at the end feeling that she hadn’t done very well. She was a bit disheartened, but I gave her some encouraging feedback. Later, when everyone’s performances on the assessment day had been reviewed, we could see that she had done brilliantly, so to be the one to call her with the offer of a training contract and hear her joyful reaction was amazing.
Yes, I try to get along to most of the events organised by our trainee social committee. The same is true for our vacation schemes – we put on a lot of social events in addition to giving students exposure to interesting work.
We want to make students aware of the opportunities that Gowling WLG offers generally, but also to connect with future stars in the making. We want to meet talented people and encourage them toward a career with us.
For students who will be attending a law fair this autumn, it is always good to prepare before you go, so that you already know a little bit about the firm when you speak to us, which will enable you to ask more beneficial, interesting questions.
The vacation scheme is imperative. At our London office, it has always been the only route through which we offer training contracts and as of this year, this is also the case at our Birmingham office.
Our application form includes a skills question which relates to the firm and one of our practice areas. The bad answers we receive tend to show a lack of research into Gowling WLG or the relevant sector, or they don’t answer the question being asked.
A lot of what we look for is in a candidate’s attitude – we want people who are willing to take on early responsibility and take ownership of the work they do. Trainees at Gowling WLG are treated as solicitors from day one. We also want to see people who appreciate the power of teamwork and who always strive to be better, but equally, we all bring something different.
Of course, it is always interesting and relevant to learn about someone’s experiences. People who have worked in other fields tend to bring valuable skillsets that are highly relevant to what we do – you don’t just have to talk about your experiences that directly relate to law.
Think bigger! This is such a competitive field, so it is important to show that you can be innovative. Equally, you need to be as sure as you can be that this is the career path you want before you apply.
We would expect any applicant to know that we are a leading, sector-focused international firm, and that we put our people and an emphasis on innovative solutions at the heart of what we do.
Some kind of cheesy ‘80s or ‘90s compilation, with plenty of karaoke classics!