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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’s based in London and has worked in legal graduate recruitment for six years.

What is your favourite part of the recruitment calendar?

My favourite part of the recruitment calendar has to be our summer vacation schemes, as they’re such great opportunities to get to know candidates first-hand. All our trainees, fee-earners, and wider business professionals are invested in ensuring the students have a rich experience. There’s also a good mix of time spent in the practice groups, sessions and socials, which provide opportunities to get to know firm representatives 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 we’re very excited to return to in-person schemes from 2023.

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 is not 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, as well as a number of case study scenarios and pre-set tasks, to ensure they experience a variety of work and practice areas.

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 have on offer for our trainee cohort. 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, and look forward to the opportunity to innovate and redesign our tailored academic courses. We’ll provide all future trainees 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 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 we cannot emphasise enough that we’re equally interested in hearing about non-legal positions and roles, 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 and our key strengths in finance, corporate and high stakes litigation. We don’t want candidates to simply list cases or deals we’ve worked on, instead 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;
  • proof-reading and comprehension test;
  • group exercise; and
  • fee-earner interview.

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

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 is of interest 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?

A night in, with a bottle of wine, watching Masterchef! I went down a rabbit hole of re-runs during lockdown, and have looked forward to the new series (professional, amateur or celebrity!) ever since, despite being a terrible cook myself…