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Meet the recruiter

Grace Ambrose

Grace Ambrose

Grace Ambrose (she/her) is the graduate recruitment and development manager at Mayer Brown. She joined the firm in 2022 and has over six years’ experience in legal graduate recruitment.


What is your favourite part of the recruitment calendar?

My favourite part of the recruitment calendar has to be our annual vacation schemes, as they’re such a great opportunity to get to know candidates first-hand. All our trainees and fee-earners are invested in ensuring the students have a rich experience. There’s also plenty of skills sessions and socials, which allow our team and the students time to get to know the firm in a more relaxed environment.

Does your firm run a vacation scheme?

Mayer Brown runs two vacation schemes; one in spring (April) and one in summer (June). Both schemes are two weeks long and candidates spend each week in two different practice groups. The schemes take place in person in our London office.

How important is the vacation scheme as part of the recruitment process?

We primarily recruit through our vacation scheme programme as we see a huge benefit, for both the firm and prospective training contract applicants, in the rich in-depth experience the schemes provide. However, we’ll always consider our pool of direct training contract applications, as we recognise that a vacation scheme isn’t a preferred, suitable or viable route for all individuals – for example, if they have parental or caring responsibilities, and/or if they’re in full-time employment.

What kind of work can candidates expect to experience during the vacation scheme?

Candidates can expect to gain exposure to live trainee tasks and projects to ensure they develop a true understanding of what it’s like to train at Mayer Brown. As candidates will complete each week in different areas of the business, we aim to ensure breadth in their experience and involve them in a range of different trainee tasks.

What key skills does your firm look for in candidates when they apply?

At Mayer Brown, we’re looking for hard-working and committed individuals who demonstrate a passion for the work we do. We want our trainees to be intellectually curious and business minded. As a firm, we also pride ourselves on our culture, and so we’re looking for authenticity and enthusiasm in our prospective trainees. Throughout the recruitment process, we’ll be testing candidates’ resilience, adaptability, and commercial awareness, as well as placing an emphasis on their knowledge of the legal industry and, specifically, Mayer Brown.

How is the firm adopting the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)?

We’re transitioning to the SQE route to qualification from 2024, and our first cohort of future trainees will begin studying towards the SQE from September 2023. We’ve selected BPP University Law School as our main provider. All future trainees will receive a maintenance grant of £17,000 while completing the preparatory courses.

How important is diversity and inclusion (D&I) to your firm?

D&I is at the heart of everything we do at Mayer Brown; it underpins our culture, core values and firm strategy. We partner with Aspiring Solicitors, and other organisations, to ensure that we’re reaching a wide audience and attracting diverse talent into the profession. It’s important to note, however, that we’re not only focused on recruiting diverse talent, but retaining diverse talent too, and we strive to create an inclusive workplace when people join. We have a number of internal networks, open to all employees, that focus on D&I activity, policy and strategy, and our trainees are very active (and often instrumental!) in this space. 

What is the most common way that candidates let themselves down in their applications?

A lack of research. Throughout our application and assessment process, we’re looking for candidates to demonstrate a considered, thorough and detailed approach to their knowledge of the profession and Mayer Brown. There’s a tendency for applicants to provide generic and sweeping statements around their motivation for pursuing a career in commercial law, which can often be applied to a number of our competitors. Keep in mind that firms will likely favour quality over quantity – aim for a few developed and convincing reasons why you’re interested in training as a commercial solicitor, and make sure you’ve tailored your answer to the firm you’re applying to. 

Should candidates use examples of non-legal work experience in their applications?

Definitely! We’d always encourage applicants to draw on a range of experience and transferable skills. We can’t emphasise enough that we’re equally interested in hearing about non-legal positions as much as insights into and work experience gained in the legal industry. We recognise that legal work experience can be extremely difficult to obtain. That said, it’s still important for candidates to demonstrate a commitment to pursuing a career in law and increasing their knowledge of the profession. For example, looking at open days and virtual industry events, which are typically more attainable than formal work experience. 

What key things about your firm should any good candidate know and be able to talk about?

It’s absolutely key for us that applicants can confidently talk around our practice offering at Mayer Brown. While we provide a full-service training experience, candidates should demonstrate an understanding of and passion for the main drivers of our business, which are finance, corporate and high stakes litigation. We don’t want candidates to simply list cases or deals we’ve worked on – we need to see a genuine interest in the work we do, and why this appeals to them.

Does your firm run an assessment centre?

Yes, we run an assessment centre that consists of a:

  • fact-find exercise;
  • written exercise;
  • group exercise; and
  • final stage training contract interview

What advice would you give to anyone interested in a career at your firm?

I’d advise aspiring lawyers to really understand the career path of a commercial solicitor – trainee, associate through to partner – and have sound and convincing reasons as to why this appeals to them. For example, how will your day-to-day differ as a trainee working in a transactional, contentious or advisory seat, and what sort of tasks can you expect to be exposed to? 

What's your guilty pleasure?

I’d struggle to pick a favourite but I’m a big Strictly Come Dancing fan and I love MasterChef – not that I can claim to be either a dancer or a cook but I enjoy critiquing others!