Jen Baird is the recruitment manager – trainees at Hogan Lovells. She is based at the London office and has been at the firm for three years.
During the first couple of years of my career as a recruitment consultant, I developed a strong interest in working in house. I progressed into roles with a couple of management consulting firms, before a vacancy in the legal sector caught my eye. The chance to work in law was very appealing because of the profession’s reputation for being more forward thinking in terms of issues such as diversity. I’ve been in the legal sector ever since and joined Hogan Lovells in 2016.
The best part of the job has to be seeing students I’ve helped and built a good relationship with, secure a training contract – it’s a really rewarding feeling!
The less enjoyable side of the job is telling students when they have not been successful. That said, feedback is an incredibly important part of the process and we give unsuccessful applicants advice that will hopefully help them to secure a training contract at another firm or reapply successfully to us next time.
There is always an onus on recruiters to differentiate their firms from the rest of the market. Making sure that Hogan Lovells stands out from its competitors and that candidates see what makes the firm different is one of my key challenges. It is a competitive market and it can be challenging to attract the best talent, so we need to ensure that we differentiate ourselves from other firms in the right way.
We do indeed – socialising is a big part of our vacation scheme and we put on several events over the two weeks, all of which are attended by the graduate recruitment team. Social events are an important part of helping students to decide whether Hogan Lovells is the right fit for them culturally, as well as a nice way for us to get to know the students.
Law fairs are a great opportunity to meet lots of different firms and to start narrowing down those you want to apply to. Firms always bring a member of the graduate recruitment team, as well as a couple of trainee solicitors, so law fairs present an excellent chance to talk to peers about the types of work they are involved with and what they do on a day-to-day basis, as well as receive individual advice from the recruiter about the application form and interview process.
On average we recruit around 75% of our trainees through our vacation scheme. For second and third-year students who have not done a vacation scheme, it is the best way to apply in the first instance. However, candidates who may have already completed a vacation scheme at another firm and are interested in Hogan Lovells, can apply directly for a training contract – we hire a number of trainees that way every year.
One of the questions we are asked a lot is “How do I make my application stand out?” The answer to that is to try to be yourself as much as possible. For example, when completing our application form, some candidates stick only to examples from their time on a vacation scheme to answer the questions, but while you should highlight your legal work experience, we also want to learn about you as an individual. Include examples from a long-term part-time job, an extracurricular activity or something you did at university – this gives us a much more rounded picture of you than we would get from a short work experience placement alone.
Rather than one key fact, we are looking for students to demonstrate some understanding of what differentiates Hogan Lovells from its competitors. That means that candidates should research our firm as well as the wider legal market. If you can eloquently describe the attributes of our firm that you find interesting and which resonate with your career motivations, alongside a strong interest in the business world - you will be on track for a strong application.
Beyond researching firms and the legal market through the various online and print publications out there, as well as the firms’ own websites and brochures, it is important to take every opportunity you can to meet the firms in person. Go to as many events as possible because the more you speak to the lawyers within a firm, the more you will start to understand what makes that firm stand out and why you are interested in applying. It will also help you gain a good understanding of the role of a trainee solicitor, so you will be more able to show why you are motivated for a career in the sector.
Watching trashy TV like Love Island and Made in Chelsea!